September 16, 2007

Is there a difference between childcare and preschool?

Childcare and after school programs are generally the only option for working parents who need their children to be taken care of during the day. Most childcare centers accept babies as well as toddlers and are full-time, full-year programs. Preschool refers to an early-childhood educational class and are usually for 3 and 4 year old. However, I put my oldest son in preschool at age 2. Many offer a part-time schedule (for example, a few hours a day, two to five times a week) as well as full-day care, but only from September to May with separate summertime programs that act more like a childcare. The two programs are often used interchangeably. A childcare center with experienced, well-trained teachers and stimulating activities offers kids similar advantages to a preschool. I think the level of learning that a child picks up in childcare depends on the ratio of caregivers to children and the willingness of the caregiver to teach. Some places are there to simply "watch" the children. I put my oldest son in preschool and my youngest son in childcare (a non teaching environment). I noticed a big difference academically as well as socially between the boys. Although, Brad was diagnosed with ADHD, I still think If I had enrolled him in preschool, we may not have had as many academic and social issues as we did. He didn't learn the social skills he needed to help him make friends as there were no other kids his age. It broke my heart to see him try to socialize at school. I didn't realize the importance of hanging out with other kids his age. My oldest son always excelled, he was a straight A student until he graduated. That's not to say that every kid that goes to preschool will be that way, but I think statistically, kids that start out in preschool do much better than not. Also, my oldest son never had problems making friends. When searching for a program that's right for you, look at many different places so that you have alot to chose from. Take your child with you and see how they act around the teachers or caregivers. Kids pick up on things that adults don't. As the voice of experience, although there is nothing wrong with childcare until the child enters kindergarten, I strongly suggest preschool. It may even be cheaper and the child will be the real one reaping the benefits.

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Scribbit said...

I know that was one of the pressures for our school district to switch to full-day kindergarten, the working families that needed a place for their child. I suppose the difference depends on the institution. Some are nothing more than daycare but others may be much better qualified as an educational facility.

Qtpies7 said...

I think its more a matter of the child. I doubt your second son would have different personality by being in preschool, at least not to the extent that he would be like your older son. (or vice versa?)
Homeschooled kids who are not put in institutions with kids their age are very well socialized most of the time, and have an easy time relating to anyone at any age, and would therefore not have any problems going to school and relating to kids. I know this from experience as I homeschooled and put my kids in school at different grades for each kid, and across the board they all got along fine. Not that they didn't get shocks at some of the weirdo freaks or the school environment.
My child who has learning issues and attention issues did just fine with school, not the learning part for some time, but he fit in mostly. He had some issues with fighting for the first two years, though. Glad that is over!