Day care or Preschool? It is a common question which parents face. The age for children to start formal school education in Australia is 5 years onwards. During these five years, childcare is an important decision a lot of parents need to make at some point. A family has different reasons to enroll their child(ren) to childcare centers – some mothers have to join back workforce, some have younger kids to look after, some want to socialize kids with others or some are looking for preparing their kids for school. The available options are Long Day Care and Preschools.

Day care or preschool

I have personally experienced both long Daycare and Preschool. Long day care helped my daughter socialize with other kids her age. It also helped her become more independent. Her lovely educators were involved with all her milestones. They even helped with her toilet training.

My daughter started preschool when she was almost 4 years. She goes there 2 days a week and enjoys it a lot. It has provided her with a learning environment like she will get to experience once she starts school.

Some major difference between Long Day Care and Preschool are:

Enrolment Age

The minimum age of enrolment with Long Day Care is 6 weeks and up to 6 years.

For preschools, the minimum age is 3 years and they require the child to be fully toilet trained before enrollment.

Hours

As the name suggests, it is childcare for a longer time. They start early in the morning and are open till 6 or 6:30 pm. So, it suits parents who are working full time. Also, they are open 5 days a week all year round (except public holidays and Christmas break)

Preschools are for shorter duration. Their hours are like regular school – usually till 3:30 pm. They follow the term structure and are closed during school holidays. Ideally, the enrollment to preschool is for 2 or 3 days a week.

Facilities

Long Day Care provides all facilities to kids. This includes meals, snacks, nappies, and sunscreen.

Preschools on the other hand do not provide all these facilities. The kids bring their own morning tea and lunch.

Activities

Both Long Day Cares and Preschools follow a structured plan of activities for the kids. However, with preschool, the focus is more on early education and preparing the kids for kindergarten.

Some points to keep in mind before selecting the childcare center:

  • Most good daycares and preschools have a waitlist, sometimes up to one year. Therefore, it is ideal to plan ahead and apply to the waitlist.
  • It is a good idea to visit the daycare/preschool of your choice to get an idea of the environment and facilities. It will also be a good chance to meet the educators.
  • Do try to get reviews from people who are already sending their kids to the centers you are interested in. Their first-hand experience will be a good feedback.

I hope it is helpful for parents to decide which one to choose for their kids. Daycare or preschool?