Preschool vs Daycare: What’s the Difference?
Why is it that some parents think that full-day daycare and half-day preschool programs are very different? Why is daycare often viewed as babysitting, while preschool programs are viewed as providing kindergarten readiness? The reality is that children who go to daycare and children who go to preschool have similar needs and interests, and need similar programming.
In British Columbia, childcare programs, whether full-day daycare, or half-day preschool, are licensed under the Ministry of Health Community Care Facilities Child Care Licensing Branch, and must meet rigid standards for health, safety, and programming.
Parents seeking childcare should choose full or half-day programs according to their own needs.
The philosophy of the centre should match the beliefs of the parents.
A high-quality program will follow a regular schedule of activities. The activities should match the developmental abilities and interests of the children and promote all areas of child development.
The environment should be interesting and challenging, yet safe.
There will be a proper ratio of qualified adults to children, and the staff will work with the children in a caring, consistent fashion. Staff members should also model appropriate behaviors, and nurture self-esteem.
At the Salmo Children’s Centre, the early childhood professionals in the half-day preschool and the full-day daycare provide education in a nurturing environment that meets the needs of the children. The preschool program stresses social, emotional and physical growth, and we try not to get caught up in thinking that we need to provide academic activities in a structured, school-like way. In the daycare program, the educators avoid the stereotype of providing only custodial care, by creating regular lesson plans with activities for all areas of development. As shown in the sample schedule below, the daily morning schedule for preschool and daycare are very similar. Unlike preschool, the daycare schedule will include lunch and an afternoon quiet time. The daycare will also repeat aspects of the morning schedule in the afternoon (e.g., group time, free play, story time, outside play, snack). The only real difference between the two settings is that preschool children arrive all at once and stay for only 2 ½ hours, while children arrive at daycare according to their parents' work schedules. Qualifications of the staff are the same in both programs.
Half-Day Preschool Program - AM
8:30 - Arrival – Free Play (includes art, science, etc)
9:45 - Group time (songs and games)
10:00 - Snack
10:20- Story time
10:30 - Outside play
11:00 - Dismissal
Full-Day Daycare Program - AM
7:00 - Free play (includes art, science, etc.)
10:00 -Group Time (songs and games)
10:45- Story time
11:00- Outside Play
The goal of the entire childcare community is to plan activities that are safe, appropriate and promote a variety of skills. Early Childhood Educators have risen to this challenge and are proud of our dedication, professionalism and insight into the needs of young children. We encourage parents to choose either a full-day daycare program, or a half-day preschool program, whichever suits your family’s needs.