Is yours one of the seven million American households with children under the age of five?
If so, you have good reason to be interested in the daycare vs preschool debate. Of course, you want to choose the option that’s in the best interest of your child. But there are other important factors at play too, including your schedule and budget.
So how can you decide which option is best for your child and your circumstance? We’re here to help you out. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of daycare and the benefits of preschool, as well as their similarities and differences.
Keep reading to learn more!
Daycare vs Preschool: What’s the Difference?
A lot of people use the terms interchangeably, and there are many similarities. Let’s start our discussion with a quick comparison of the traditional models for preschool and daycare centers.
What Is Preschool?
The primary purpose of preschool is to prepare young children (usually between two-and-a-half and five years old) to enter the public school system. Preschool programs offered a structured learning environment, including curriculum and assessments, to ensure the child is on track to enter kindergarten.
The main goal of preschool is, not to provide child care, but to develop the child’s cognitive, motor, and social skills. Preschools typically offer half-day programs (ending around lunchtime) or full-day programs (ending around 3 pm, like elementary school). They usually follow a schedule similar to the public school system, closing on holidays and snow days.
Most preschools start accepting children at 30 months of age and expect the child to be potty-trained.
What Is Daycare?
The main purpose of daycare is to provide child care options for working parents. They may accept infants as young as a few months old all the way up to school-aged children (anywhere from five to twelve years old).
Daycare centers usually offer more flexible schedules than preschools. In addition to half-day or full-day options, they often have extended hours to accommodate the parents’ typical nine-to-five working schedule. They may also offer the option of just a few days (or even a few hours) per week.
This is not to say that daycare facilities are glorified babysitters. Most offer curriculum and learning activities similar to preschools. These days, the line between the two is getting blurred, as many programs incorporate aspects of both environments.
Benefits of Preschool
Now that we’ve established the main differences between daycare vs preschool, let’s dig a little deeper to determine which better suits your child’s needs.
Preschool is designed to be a safe environment for your child to explore and learn. It’s a valuable chance to learn social skills they’ll need throughout life, especially if most of their contact has been limited to close friends and family members.
Your child will develop basic communication, math, and social skills. As a result, their self-confidence will soar.
The structured environment also allows the teachers to spot any specific abilities or special needs your child might have. This allows you the chance to do research and address those needs (if necessary) before your child enters the school system.
Benefits of Daycare
Daycare centers are a godsend for busy parents. They also provide a safe and friendly environment for your child to thrive while you work or run errands.
While preschools typically run on a set schedule, daycare centers often allow more freedom and flexibility. You can enroll your child for a few mornings or afternoons a week, or whatever best suits your schedule.
Some facilities even offer hourly daycare, allowing you total freedom to drop off or pick up your child whenever you need to. These daycare centers can even make sure your child finishes their homework and gets a nutritious meal if you’re running late.
Here’s one more bonus of daycare you might not have considered. If yours is an only child (for now), daycare gives them a chance to be around kids of all ages, including infants. This can be an invaluable learning experience, especially if you plan to expand your family someday.
Cost Considerations of Preschool & Daycare
Our discussion wouldn’t be complete without addressing the elephant in the room: the cost of child care.
It’s no secret that costs are soaring across the country. In fact, the cost of daytime child care has tripled since the 1990s.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is only driving those costs up even more. For example, the cost of sending a toddler to preschool has shot up an astounding 108% in Louisiana. And if you want to send your four-year-old to preschool in Florida, you’ll be paying 175% more than you would have in 2019.
Costs vary greatly from state to state (and even city to city), so it’s hard to make definite statements about how much you’ll pay. Generally speaking, though, most parents can expect to spend between $500 and $1,000 per month on preschool or daycare for their child.
Preschools used to be considerably more expensive than daycare, but that’s not always the case anymore. As costs have risen, more facilities are offering flexible hours and payment options to accommodate the needs of more families.
What’s the average cost in your area? It’s worth taking time to do research and find out. Talk to other families in your community and see what’s working for them.
Your goal is to find a preschool or daycare center that will benefit your child — without breaking the bank.
Preschool vs Daycare: Which Will You Choose?
So, in the debate of daycare vs preschool, which option seems to be the best for your family?
Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. There are many advantages to both preschool and daycare programs. Each does its part to prepare your child for the public school system while freeing up your schedule as a busy parent.
Speaking of being a busy parent, would you like more exceptional advice? Keep browsing our site for more great information for moms everywhere.