Daycare & Preschool: is there a difference?

3 Main Differences between Preschools and Daycares:

When it comes to finding a school for your child, there is a lot to consider, but one of the biggest differences you will notice are whether they are called a preschool or a daycare. So, is there a difference between them, or is it all just jargon? If there is a difference, what is it?


Differences between Preschools & Daycares:

First off, yes, there is a huge difference between them. The main differences between a daycare and a preschool are where they are located. An In-home Daycare is located within someone’s home. The owner of the daycare resides within the home they operate the daycare from. A preschool is in a location that is legally zoned to operate a business. With that being said, there are also huge differences between the rules and regulations they need to adhere to, while running their business. A preschool has far more strict rules and regulations than an in-home daycare.


Here are three main differences you need to know:

In-Home Daycare:

1.    The operator and or teacher of the school only needs to be 18 years old.

2.    A small in-home daycare is a ratio of 1:8, with mixed age groups and a large in-home daycare, is a ratio of 1:14 with mixed age groups. Ages can mix. An infant or toddler can mix with preschool and school-age children.


3.    Loose visual supervision is allowed. If children are in one room, the operator or teacher can be in another room.




1.    The operator and teachers of the school needs to have specific education and experience (A teacher needs to have 12 units of child development classes and at least 6 months of teaching experience. 15 hours of Health and Safety training. A School director needs to be a fully qualified teacher and have additional course work in preschool administration and be CPR and first aid certified. Centers that require their teachers and directors to have a permit, require more education.

2.    Preschools need to maintain specific ratios at all times (1:4 ratio for infants, 1:6 ratio for toddlers, 1:12 ratio for preschoolers) and children are separated by age. Infants and toddlers under the age of two are not allowed to mix with preschool ages 2-5 years. School-age children are also separated from preschool children and infant/toddler age children.

3.    Strict visual supervision is maintained at all times. Children during operation hours need to be within eyesight. This is during playtime, curriculum, snacks/lunch, nap and bathroom time.  

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