If you have a baby who is between a year old and 18 months, one of the most important choices you need to make is whether to send him/her to day-care or preschool. It is very true that the two are NOT the same which is what some people do not realize. And what’s more, it is even possible to send your child to both although that is rarely practiced. However, the differences between the two need to be known to people who have recently become parents as the two affect the child’s future personality in different ways and it is a proven fact that the early years of children should be carefully monitored as they are the most important.
A day-care is a place where it’s common to see working parents leave their children to while they are at work. As the name suggest, a day care is a facility where children can be left throughout the day and be cared for by paid personnel who are in most cases professionally trained to take care of children. There are usually no educational activities or any activities for that matter that would help the child to learn something at a day-care. The infant can play and sleep all day long and will be taken care of. The health and happiness of the child are the primary concerns of the personnel in day-care centres. Pre-school, in contrast to day-care, is a place where children are not only taken care of, but owing to a number of educational activities, some learning of the infant is also ensured and he/she is prepared for school.
The working hours of the two also differ. Day-cares are there to take care of the children of working parents and they take in children as small as 3 months old. They are supposed to take care of the infants for the length of the time that the parents work, sometimes the whole day. Pre-schools are usually a few hours long and for about 3-4 days a week. The focus is not on taking care of the children but meeting the school’s schedule.
Taking another approach that does not involve an infant, there are normally differences in the way the two are run and financed. A day-care does not need too much funds but that is not true for pre-schools. Since preschools require professionals, qualified teachers, personnel having completed the Montessori course etc., as well as the latest educational toys, the cost of running is pretty high. The maintenance of academic accreditation rules also requires funds. Therefore it is common to see day-cares raising money by mere book fairs but that amount of money is not enough for a preschool.
This bring us to our next important difference between day-care and preschool; the money or the fees one has to pay. It is not always the case but on average, the fees of a preschool is greater than a day-care despite the fact that a day-care takes care of your child for a far greater time than a pre-school. This is something of a paradox; a preschool takes more money and still just takes responsibility of your child for such a short time? The reason for this is that your child is merely taken care of in a day-care centre but learns a lot apart from this in a preschool. For those families who are not in the best of financial positions, day-care might be the better option. However, these differences do not always hold. A preschool may charge you equal to a day-care and the latter may even teach your child more than preschool. It varies a lot. The best way is to talk to parents who have sent their children to the day-care or preschool you plan to send your child to in order to get a better idea of that particular institution.
Summary of differences expressed in points
- Day-cares; take care of the child when the parents are off at work; preschools, also take care but ensure some learning on the child’s part
- Day-cares; have longer time frames to drop off your child, sometimes the whole day even; preschool- for a few hours a day and few days a week
- Greater finances needed to run preschools because of professional teachers, educational toys etc.
- Preschools therefore have higher fees than day-cares; not always though