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Daycare or Preschool? Which is Right for My Child?

sliderThe “age-old” question for parents of toddlers everywhere: Is it time to start preschool?

For parents in Chesapeake and other cities in the Hampton Roads area, the transition from daycare to preschool can be complex and confusing thanks to the number of excellent early learning options available. And if you love the teachers and environment at your child’s current daycare center, it can be particularly tough to make the change to a new and different preschool environment.

If you find yourself in this sort of predicament, take the following factors into consideration.

Age.  It may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised by the variation in age requirements between daycare centers and preschools. At Apple Tree, our infant and toddler program (daycare) accepts children between the ages of 6 weeks and 2 years, while our preschool program accepts kids between the ages of 2 and a half to 5.

Since every child is unique, your own parents’ intuition is your best ally in knowing whether or not your child is ready to make the transition from daycare to structured preschool. A good rule of thumb is to start considering preschool once they are completely potty trained.

Your Schedule.  Daycare hours typically start before the traditional workday and end an hour or two after. Preschool, on the other hand, looks more like a regular school day. While some preschools like Apple Tree offer extended care hours, it may cost you extra. Consider whether your current schedule fits a daycare or preschool schedule and plan accordingly.

Curriculum.  Herein lies the main difference between daycare and preschool. Daycare programs typically offer supervised, semi-structured play in a nurturing environment. Preschool programs offer that same nurturing environment but place a greater focus on structured early learning, especially reading and math skills. The best preschools use cutting edge curricula to guide this pursuit.

At Apple Tree, we utilize faith based curricula Pinnacle and A- Beka to help each preschooler achieve their developmental goals. Pinnacle emphasizes hands on learning while A-Beka focuses on phonics and early math skills.

When investigating a preschool program, be sure to ask to see a sample of the curriculum they use. It’s important that all learning materials are age appropriate.

The Bottom Line

Like we said, every child is unique. This means that the answer to the question “Daycare or preschool?,” is different for everyone. No matter whether you make the decision to keep your child in daycare or transition them to preschool, look first and foremost at the quality and reputation of a learning center’s staff. Apple Tree Learning Center offers the best early learning educators that Hampton Roads has to offer in a caring Christian environment. Call or contact us today to schedule a tour at one of our Chesapeake or Suffolk locations.

Note: Both Infant-Toddler and Preschool programs are not offered at all Apple Tree locations. Check out the location nearest you to learn more about program availability. 

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