You may hear the terms “childcare” and “preschool” used interchangeably but these terms come with different contexts—despite the fact that both childcare centers and preschool centers focus on providing care services for children.
So, what is the difference between childcare and preschool? First, there are similarities. Both types of care, for example, are designed to offer safe environments for children while their parents are at school or work. Both can help children with socialization skills, problem solving, conflict resolution, and playing well in groups.
Childcare centers, though, tend to have more time for free play while preschools can follow a more typical school schedule, including by being closed on scheduled holidays. Here are more differences.
Age Groups Served
Childcare services can include infant care—perhaps for babies as young as six weeks through children aged three years old. If it’s determined that a child is not yet ready to attend preschool at the age of three, they might continue in childcare.
Preschools are typically for children aged three through five who are prepared for the experience (although some two-and-a-half year olds may be included). Benchmarks can include being potty trained and able to effectively communicate their needs to teachers and others.
As alluded to above, preschools have more structured curriculums—and, therefore, designated times for activities. They focus on providing developmentally appropriate learning experiences that will transition children into kindergarten preparations.
Childcare centers are more likely to have drop-in care that suits the parents’ schedules. Some centers, like some of the locations at Horizon Education Centers, offer wrap-around services for working families. In those cases, a child of preschool age could be part of both programs—childcare and preschool—within a single day.
Because an important focus of preschools will be preparing the children for kindergarten, there will be a more targeted emphasis on literacy, learning numbers, science, and so forth. There will be learning outcomes attached to the curriculum along with assessments of the child’s educational progress.
A Look at Horizon Education Centers
At Horizon, we make it easier to create a consistent routine and environment for your young children and a smoother transition from one stage of childcare to the next. Yes, there is a difference between childcare and preschool, but we provide the same excellent quality in each program.
We offer high-quality toddler care for children aged eighteen through thirty-six months. This childcare program has a focus on cognitive development, social and emotional development, physical health, self-help skills, language and literacy—and preschool development.
Our quality preschool program is for children aged three to five. There, the focus is on literacy skills, verbal and social skills, and number and letter recognition. Horizon provides developmental screenings and assessments, as well, as part of the thrust towards kindergarten readiness. For more continuity, we then offer school age programs.
Regardless of what you need, we have developmentally appropriate, quality programs for your child!