What are the Differences Between Daycare, Preschool, and an Early Learning Center?

What are the differences between your options for childcare and early learning opportunities for your child?

Daycare is a place working parents send their children for care during their workday. There are, of course, varying degrees of care, but at the most basic level, the children are fed, naps are given, and there may be some sort of organized activities. This environment generally serves children 6 weeks until they start Kindergarten but may also offer before and after school care.

A traditional preschool setting is more geared towards 3–5-year-old children. It may be a full or half-day program but is often looked at as a way to prepare a child for a formal school setting. Learning opportunities are often more formal with a focus on writing, cutting, and learning letters and numbers.

An early learning center is the best of both worlds. They generally offer all-day care for children starting at 6 weeks through Pre-K ages but also a wide variety of learning opportunities throughout the day.

At Learning Ladder Academy, we pride ourselves on being an Early Learning Center. In that respect, we work hard in preparing lesson plans for each classroom from our infant room through our PreK rooms that follow the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards.

I know what you are thinking – lesson plans for the infant room? Yes, absolutely! Obviously, the infants are not learning the alphabet, but we do ensure they are supported in exploring motor skills, we work with them on language development, and encourage self-help skills as appropriate.

At the other end of the center, our Preschool and pre-K programs are taught by college-educated teachers who are preparing thoughtful lesson plans to ensure the children are able to go to kindergarten having a strong base. They are working on their letters, numbers, math concepts, and sight words, as well as important skills like walking in a line, waiting their turn, and being active participants in the group and individual activities.

We encourage these children as well, to develop necessary self-help skills such as handling their own bathroom needs, being able to wash hands on their own, opening their food containers and packages at lunch, learning how to work with peers to resolve issues, and so on.

We do not care to consider ourselves a “traditional” daycare center. We are working hard to teach the children who have enrolled in our school a variety of necessary skills to ensure their future success in their educational journey.

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