Tips For Parents: Making the Decision to Put Your Toddler in Daycare or Preschool

Have you been caring for your child at home for a few years? Are you considering putting your child in school or daycare? Is your child in daycare, and you are thinking about switching to a preschool? These are not easy decisions to make, and many parents struggle to figure out what is best for their child and the needs of their family, especially because daycare and preschool have many similarities.

Daycares and preschools generally operate under the same guidelines, which means that they must adhere to similar standards of care, safety, and supervision. They can often cost the same, and both can offer a full range of educational opportunities to prepare your little one for kindergarten. How do you decide which is right for your child and family?

Differentiating Daycare from Preschool Can Help Parents Decide on Which One is Best

The best way to begin deciding which environment is right for you might be to examine the differences between preschool and daycare in general. Consider the following ways that they tend to differ:

Hours of operation

  • Preschools vary from half-day to full-day programs and can be offered from two days a week to five. For many preschools, a full-day program is only until approximately 3 pm or whenever the local school day ends. Preschools often follow the local school district calendar, which means they might close on holidays, for vacation weeks, and in the summer.
  • Daycare centers tend to have longer, more flexible hours of operation, primarily because they cater to the needs of working parents. They are usually open year-round and during holidays. Some daycares allow parents to drop off some days for 10 hours and other days for just an hour or two.

Toilet training

Most preschools require children to be potty trained before they are allowed to attend. Daycares do not generally have any similar requirement.

Ages of attendees

Preschool usually has children aged two through four (sometimes five). They are typically separated into classrooms by age group. For instance, there might be a room with two-year-olds, a room of three-year-olds, and a room of kids who are four and five.

In daycare, the ages can range from infants to grade schoolers, depending on the facility. Children in daycare tend to mix and mingle in rooms with kids of all ages, allowing them to learn from older kids and care for younger ones. This can have benefits and drawbacks, depending on the needs of your toddler.


Preschool programs are often geared to formally teaching children and preparing them for school than daycare does. They usually have higher standards and training for teachers and a set curriculum to follow.

Once you evaluate their general differences, look more closely at specific daycares and preschools near you to make a fully informed decision.


Drawn2Learn offers daycare and preschool directors and teachers early education curriculum tools to help create successful, creative, and exciting programs for young children.

Our programs save you money on expensive supplies, reduce child frustration in the classroom, and offer a new revenue source to operators.

Call us at [phone] or visit us online at