Daycare or Preschool: Best Options While You Are at Work

Childcare is a major concern for working parents. You want a solution that’s safe, convenient and cost-effective. Plus, you want to make sure your little one is happy too.

Once your child passes those toddler years, the decision becomes more complicated. Is daycare enough or is your little Einstein ready to jump into the school scene? Here’s a comparison of the two options.

Facts About Daycare

  • Daycare programs accept infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and many offer before and after school programs for elementary-age children.
  • You child does not need to be potty trained to attend daycare.
  • Although most programs provide educational activities throughout the day, this is not their primary focus.
  • Daycare delivers full-day, 9 to 5 care. Many centers run extended early drop off and late pickup hours for an additional fee.  
  • Daycare programs run year-round including many federal holidays.

Top Benefits – Flexible and full-time childcare for ages 0-12
Top Drawbacks – Limited educational opportunities

Facts About Preschool

  • Preschools accept three, four and five-year-olds.
  • Most preschools require children to be potty trained.
  • The primary goal of preschools is education and child development. Different methodologies, such as Montessori and Waldorf, may approach learning in unique ways.
  • Many preschools run half-day programs from 9-12 or 12-3. Full-day programs often follow school hours from 9-3 or 8:30-3:30 with busing. 
  • Preschools tend to match school calendars. They may close for summer vacation and federal holidays as well as winter, mid-winter and spring breaks.

Top Benefits – Specifically designed to introduce young children to learning and school
Top Drawbacks – May not provide full-time childcare coverage

Additional Questions to Consider

  • Quality preschools and daycares allow you to tour their facilities along with your son or daughter before you enroll. This should give you a better idea how well your little one will fit in.
  • Sometimes daycares and preschools combine efforts. They may have onsite classrooms for older kids or busing from daycare to preschool and back.
  • Prices vary, so you’ll have to do your research. Also, be sure to check in with your local public school. Some districts offer government-funded preschool programs. If you live within the district, you may not have to pay.   
  • Eventually, the stomach flu will hit. Inevitably, this will be on the same day you have an important meeting or major project due. Make sure you have a backup plan for illness as well as vacations and holidays.
  • Kids grow up quickly, so remember, your perfect solution is only temporary. A three-year-old may love daycare, but a four-year-old may be eager to join friends in preschool. You’ll want to reevaluate your situation each year.

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