What’s the Difference Between Day Care and Preschool?

Every parent wants the best for their child from the time they take their first steps to when they are grown up and off to college, and every moment in between. Although your child’s needs change as they grow older, your desire to provide them with the best care and education never does. Sometimes, a parent’s biggest decision lies in the care of their child when the day comes where they have to return to work. Do you hire a nanny? A babysitter? Enroll them in day care? As much as a parent would jump at the idea of just taking their child with them to work, this is a decision that requires ample time, research, and consideration. Usually, during this time, a parent will come across day care centers and preschools that both boast beneficial aspects for their child. However, this begs the question, is there a difference between day care and preschool? If so, what are the main differences between the facilities? Let’s dive into the differences that set day care and preschool in Spring Hill, TN, apart from each other. 


One of the main differences between day care and preschool is their basic function. Preschool is a learning facility that helps children prepare for kindergarten. On the other hand, a day care is a center that provides working parents with full-time care through the workweek–even weekends depending on the center you choose. Since preschool lays the ground for kindergarten, it’s recommended that children between the ages of 3-5 be enrolled. However, be advised that almost all preschool centers require children to be fully potty trained. In preschool, teachers are trained to use specific learning techniques that will further promote your child’s social and cognitive development. The hours of operation of preschool differ from day care since they act as an educational facility. Like standard school systems, preschools close for holidays, summer breaks, through inclement weather, etc.

On the other hand, day care centers usually have longer hours of operation in order to accommodate the busy schedules of parents. Depending on your schedule, day care centers allow you to drop off your child when they open and stay there for as long as you need–of course, not past closing time. Your child isn’t required to stay there all day either. Your child’s day care schedule can be whatever you need it to be, whether it’s an hour one day and five hours the next day; flexibility is the key. Additionally, day cares don’t have an age limit on children that can be signed up for their care facilities. Whether they are infants or grade-schoolers, day cares welcome children of all ages. The main function of day care is to provide an area for children to interact with other children, play with age-appropriate toys, color, do puzzles, watch TV, etc. In very loose terms, day care is an amplified version of babysitting.

The choice of what childcare facility in Franklin, TN, best fits your child’s needs is entirely up to you. Before making a decision, take the time to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you looking for full-time care?
  • Do you work long hours?
  • Is your child old enough to be without you for long periods of time?
  • Is your child nearing the age that’s appropriate for kindergarten? 

Asking yourself these questions might help you determine what’s best for you and your child’s needs.