Preschool and Day Care, What Are the Differences?: There comes a time in every parent’s life where they need to enrol their child in an age-appropriate program. If you did some digging, you would find yourself staring at two options for early-year childcare gold coast in Australia – Preschool and daycare. But which one is the right choice for your kid? We don’t blame you for getting confused because both these terms get used interchangeably many times.
In this article, we look at preschool and daycare and explore their similarities and differences. We hope this gives you a better understanding of the options you have so you can choose the appropriate one for your kid. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Preschool and Day Care – Similarities
Both preschool and daycare programs require necessary licenses by state regulators. Usually, they are subject to the same laws and regulations in terms of safety, record keeping requirements, staff-to-child ratios, kids’ nutrition and everything in between. Regardless of what the program is called, preschool or daycare, it needs to meet the standards for early childhood education.
Both the programs aim to offer an environment conducive to learning for kids. This includes playful learning, emotional development, growing communication skills, physical activity and more. In all probabilities, your child will be spending a few hours every week with their caregivers. It is important that they feel safe, whether in preschool or daycare. Ensure the staff is nurturing and emotionally available to the kids at all times.
Preschool v/s Day Care – Differences
While there are similarities between preschool and daycare, it’s by understanding the differences that the perfect choice will become obvious to you.
Both daycare and preschool encourage kids to explore their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development through myriad activities. However, preschools have a one-up on daycares in terms of controlling the learning environment of your kids.
In daycare, your kid will likely engage more in fun-filled activities with more free time and lesser structured activities. Compared to preschools, daycares tend to be the lesser academically focused with more spontaneous learning opportunities instead of rigid schedules.
For preschools, there is more regulation as compared to daycares and the daily activities centre around exploring educational opportunities. They emphasize more on education together with giving the kids the freedom to play and socialize. Preschools aim to prepare your kids for kindergarten by teaching skills such as science, art, numeracy and literacy.
Schedules and Timings
Preschools and daycares follow different timings. Daycares offer working parents more flexibility in terms of scheduling. If you are a parent who is looking forward to getting back to work after your maternity leave, a daycare centre might be preferable. Working moms and dads who wish to leave their infants under the care/supervision of able teachers and staff find daycare centres meeting their needs better. They allow for greater personalization too, depending on your child’s needs and coping skills. As a parent, you can choose whether you want to send your child to daycare throughout the year or only during select times of the year.
Whereas, in the case of preschools, this flexibility is lacking. They follow a strict routine and operate for a fixed number of hours daily. The operating hours tend to be shorter as compared to daycares. Moreover, preschools shut their operations during the summer months and close on holidays usually. If you are a working parent, this distinguishing feature may not work out well for you and your kid.
Age Requirement and Potty-training Prerequisites
You may find that if your child is younger than 3 years old, they may need to be potty-trained for you to enrol them in a preschool. Typically, preschools accept children between the ages of 3 and 5, and they are expected to be fully potty-trained. So, if your child hasn’t reached that stage, it may not be possible to send them to a preschool.
Conversely, daycare centres don’t have any such potty-training requisites. Since the staff is accustomed to handling kids between 0 and 3 years, they are expected to take in diapering kids. Daycares also have changing areas for the staff to look after your kids when they need a diaper change.
Child to Caregiver Ratio
If you want your kid to have more individualized care, you might want to pay attention to the child to caregiver ratio before you choose a program. The National Quality Framework (NQF) has set out the minimum educator to child ratio requirements for children’s education and care services in Australia. They are in the range of 1:4 and 1:11. For kids between 0 and 24 months, the educator to child ratio is 1:4. When the age of your child falls in the ’36 months up to and including preschool age’ bracket, the ratio changes to 1:11 depending on where you live. Make sure you stay informed before you make a decision.
Whether your kid would be better off in a preschool or daycare depends on your familial requirements. If your child is an infant or too young, daycare may be the better option. If you have a toddler and you want them to socialize with other kids while initiating formal learning too, you might want to opt for a preschool. It is pivotal that you ensure wherever you decide to send your child, it’s safe, and they can have fun and learn new things.