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Preschool vs Daycare: How to Choose What’s Right For You

daycare vs preschool: how to choose whats right for you

As much as any other thing is significant for you to choose for a toddler, preschool vs daycare is as essential.

What is the difference between preschool and day care? 

Your little one is showing signs that they are ready for daycare… or is it preschool? Choosing between these two is quite a task. Not just the part of which one, but to think of the programs, licensing, timing, outcomes, environment, and whatnot. The differences between daycare and preschool can be subtle, but important.

Let’s start with what these types of programs have in common…

preschool play

Preschool and Daycare Commonalities

Both daycare and preschool provide developmentally-aligned care for children. Programs are designed to meet the physical and emotional needs of children, as well as provide childcare support for working parents. Both daycare and preschool prioritize regular meals, snacks, naptimes, and play— all of which are essential for early childhood wellness. Furthermore, both programs will offer fun and age-appropriate activities for the children in their care. Both may offer help with important milestones, like toilet-training, though this may vary by individual program.

To make matters more confusing, there is often great overlap in age ranges for daycare and preschool, with some preschool programs starting as early as 18 months, and some daycare programs extending for children as old as 5 years. So how can we differentiate between these two options? 

preschool learning

The simple answer: Preschool builds on daycare with a focused and personalized experience.

In addition to the generalized support of daycare, preschool offers a more focused and personalized experience for young children. At Little Scholar, our preschool program engages and challenges young children with early and age-appropriate academic concepts, like letter recognition, concepts about print, math sense and counting, and more.

Like many preschools, we use an early childhood curriculum that includes social skills (such as manners in English and Spanish), life skills (such as self-care and care for the environment), and the arts. In addition, teachers look for measurable progress and are in frequent communication with parents over their child’s progress, interests, and successes.


In addition to academic readiness, preschools also prioritize social-emotional development, providing opportunities for children to learn essential social skills such as sharing, taking turns, and resolving conflicts peacefully. These experiences help children build strong relationships with peers and adults, fostering a sense of belonging and self-confidence.

(Note: While some daycares may be excellent at communication with parents, especially regarding physical and emotional needs of the children in their care, most do not include analysis of academic or social progress.)

Preschool introduces formal schooling

Preschool also includes routines and practices common in elementary school—with adjustments for little ones. For example, there is often a more structured routine than daycare, similar to a school day. Parents may also be invited to back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, and other preschool events. Preschoolers may even have special assignments or projects to try at home that will integrate in their school day. 

Preschools are designed for children's learning needs

While daycare may offer extended hours, preschools generally prioritize the optimal time for learning needs of the child. According to Montessori philosophy, a three-hour window is an ideal length of time for children ages 0-6 to learn and grow. Little Scholar Preschool is designed with this in mind, and uses a combination of strategies to help children make the most of their time together.

One key aspect in preschool vs daycare is its emphasis on preparing children for formal schooling. Preschool curriculum often includes activities aimed at developing foundational skills such as letter and number recognition, language development, and problem-solving abilities. Through age-appropriate activities and guided exploration, preschoolers gain the necessary skills and confidence to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.


In overall daycare vs preschool, both play important roles in early childhood education. Besides, preschool offers a more structured and educational environment geared towards preparing children for academic success and social-emotional development. By providing a well-rounded curriculum and supportive learning environment, preschools set children on a path towards lifelong learning and achievement.

There we conclude preschool vs daycare comparison which will help you choose the one for your toddler.

preschool students

Preschool questions? We would love to hear from you.

Little Scholar offers a toddler learning program in addition to preschool. No matter where your child is on their journey, we have a program for you.

Connect with us at info@littlescholar.school!

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