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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. 

Are You Looking For The Right School For Your Family?

Are you worried and losing sleep over this important decision?

At Apple Tree Learning Centers we understand and want the best choice for you and your child.  
Enrolling your little one in a preschool or kindergarten program can bring many questions:  How well will my child adjust to the school that I choose? Will my child make friends? And one of the most popular concerns that we hear every year is  – Will the teacher understand my child?


At Apple Tree Learning Centers, we welcome this question and believe that every child – whether currently enrolled or a potential child is deserving of the best choice that fits their needs and the needs of the parents.  We have found that one of the best ways to help a parent who has this concern is to help them take the first step in finding the answer. 

What is the first step?    Get To Know The Teacher

When you are selecting the right school for your child, make sure that you spend some time getting to know the center directors and your child’s teacher.  In addition to learning about safety, cleanliness, general curriculum, overall philosophy, cost and location – you must think about the relationship that your child will enjoy with this person that will spend time throughout the day nurturing and educating your child.

At Apple Tree Learning Centers we believe that it is important for you to watch how the teacher interacts with the kids in the classroom.  It is helpful to pay attention to how the teacher runs the class and how the children respond to his or her direction. If the kids seem happy and interact well with the teacher, chances are good that the teacher’s classroom style will be a fit for your child as well.

Once you have observed the classroom setting, we love it when you ask questions.  It’s best to talk with the center director, the administrative staff, and most importantly the teacher that you have observed.

When you talk with the teacher, ask about a typical day. A teacher’s answers can help you evaluate how creative he or she might be in responding to everyday classroom dilemmas. You can also learn a great deal from how responsive a teacher is to your questions. If the teacher appears defensive, uncomfortable, or uninterested while replying, that could signal future communication problems and may mean that the teacher and preschool aren’t right for your family.

Getting to know the teacher is the best “first step” of this process as you prepare your child for a school experience that not only will educate but touch their love of learning for the rest of the life!  We believe in teamwork, partnership and open communication from our first conversation.  We welcome you to our learning center, and we look forward to meeting your child!


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