What’s the Difference Between a Preschool and a Daycare?

academic preschool curriculumPreschool, daycare, what’s the difference? They are both just places to drop off your kid when you go to work, right? Wrong.

More and more parents are discovering the benefits of academic preschool, and how a strong academic preschool curriculum can set their children up for grade school readiness.

A daycare center is a place that provides supervision of young children when parents are busy or at work. The settings may look similar: a building with a playground, bright colored rooms with art supplies, toys, and cheerful music. The activities may even appear to be the same — drawing, coloring, dancing, building, singing — but the difference is in the purpose of these activities and the dedication of the supervising adults.

A teacher at a preschool is not a babysitter. The teacher’s primary role is to create a stimulating environment for the children in which they will be learning and cultivating important life skills. Oftentimes, this learning is conducted through play, but the games and academic preschool activities are designed to provide children with an experience that will foster personal growth.

By contrast, a daycare worker’s job is to ensure the children’s safety and keep them occupied while they wait for their parents’ to pick them up. Learning can certainly happen at a daycare facility, but it is not the purpose, and the daycare workers are not trained to educate, but rather to care-take.

As many as three-fourths of children in the United States attend an academic preschool program. The percentage of children between the ages of three and five enrolled in these programs increased from 59% to 65% Between 1990 and 2013. The number continues to grow today as studies have shown the positive effects an academic preschool curriculum has had on participating children.

One study showed that one-fourth of at-risk kids were more likely to drop out of high school if they did not get a quality preschool education. Furthermore, 70% of at-risk children were more likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime if they did not attend a quality preschool.

The academic preschool curriculum does not directly deter children from committing crimes or staying in school, but it does instill in them an interest in learning. When a child starts at a young age, she is more likely to understand the importance of education; when education is mixed with fun and play, she may develop of love of learning and even a love for school.