What is preschool?

Preschool is usually geared to children from about age 3 to 5 – those who have moved beyond toddlerhood but aren’t yet old enough for kindergarten. A good preschool program might emphasize the ways it promotes your child’s development, including laying the groundwork for a solid start in kindergarten. Many embrace specific teaching philosophies.

How is preschool different from daycare?

Preschools typically provide care for shorter hours and are closed for holidays, school breaks, and summer, though some may offer full-time programs, extended care, and summer options. Preschools must be licensed, and most teachers have some training in early childhood education.

Daycare centers can be a more convenient choice for working parents because they usually provide full-time care, even during school breaks. And they typically accept a wider age range, from infants through pre-kindergartners.

How is preschool similar to daycare?

“A good daycare and a good preschool probably won’t be all that different,” says Leslie Roffman, director of San Francisco’s Little School. “People tend to use the word ‘daycare’ in a derogatory way, but that’s a misconception in popular culture.”

Daycare centers and preschools must meet the same licensing and accreditation requirements, and in general, can be evaluated using many of the same criteria. They often cost about the same, too.