Daycare and Preschool: Which Is Best For Your Family?
Parents make hundreds of decisions every day, and some are more complicated than others. For instance, the issue of selecting a daycare and preschool can be one of the biggest decisions you will make during your child’s formative years. But, this doesn’t have to be a huge source of stress.
Daycare Vs. Preschool
Here’s the thing about child care, you have a ton of options and some are a better fit for your family than others. In general, a daycare is a facility that is less structured while a preschool will have a set daily schedule.
When you think about daycares, you probably imagine a smaller group of children of many ages that spend their days playing, perhaps going to the park, and enjoying lunch and snacks. However, it’s actually not uncommon to find daycares that do offer some structure and some educational activities.
By the same token, you might be thinking of preschool as a place where students follow a rigorous course of academics with some recess time. The truth is that there are many different types of preschools that range from schools with very loosely structured, student-directed activities to those where students are spending their days sitting at tables directed by teachers with a very strict daily schedule. And, of course, there are many preschools that fall somewhere in between.
Our Teaching Philosophy
At Precious Moments, our Sunnyvale preschool and San Jose preschool are a bit unique. While many schools will focus on a specific teaching method such as Montessori or perhaps Waldorf or Bank Street, our director has studied a myriad of teaching philosophies and methods and created a school that incorporates the theories of leading experts in the field of early childhood education such as Piaget, Montessori, Ericson and others.
Our goal is to teach children adaptability to situations, helping them build problem-solving skills that will help them in any situation, either academic or just in life. Creative thinkers and problem solvers always seem to find a way to thrive, and when we teach these young minds how to adapt and encourage their creativity,
How do we do this? We provide them with opportunities to explore their world. We allow them to participate in a variety of experiences. Our days are planned carefully and include age-appropriate and engaging activities that spark curiosity in these young minds.
We incorporate many STEAM-based activities. You probably have heard about STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, but with STEAM, we also incorporate A for Arts.
There are many studies that show the benefits of using art, music and dance during early childhood education. These activities, as well as our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-based activities promote creativity, and creative thinkers are the leaders and innovators of tomorrow. Our quality program is designed so that children are well-prepared for their next level of education.
We also focus on helping students become self-confident and independent. We work on fostering positive peer relationships. We believe that students flourish and learn best in a caring environment where they feel safe and respected, which is the type of environment we have created at our Sunnyvale preschool, our San Jose preschool and at our Santa Clara daycare.
How To Select A Daycare and Preschool
- Visit Each School Site – It’s crucial that you actually walk around the preschool and get a feel for what occurs there any given day. Visualize your own child spending their days at each facility.
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Ask yourself some questions, such as: Is the facility clean? Does it seem well organized? If students are there, chances everything won’t be 100% pristine because the students might be painting or working on centers or enjoying some imaginative play.
- Gauge The Overall Happiness Level – Even at the best daycare and preschool, a toddler or preschool can become upset. These little ones have their moments, so if you see one child having a difficult moment, don’t write off the school. Instead, take note of the response of the staff members? How do they handle the situation?
Additionally, make note of how staff members interact with the children in general, as well as with each other. You definitely want to select a school where everyone seems respectful and a school where the teachers and staff genuinely seem to enjoy being with the children. If the children seem happy and engaged with their activities, this is a good sign.
- Ask About Child-Adult Ratios – When it comes to daycare versus preschool, the proper adult-to-child ratio varies. Some daycares accept infants and very young toddlers, and their ratios are different from that of older children. With infants and children up to 36 months, more supervision is required as these children simply need more support, help and attention. With preschoolers, from about age 3 up to pre-kindergarten, you still need multiple adults in a classroom, although not as many, so be sure that each school you visit has enough adults to match the number of students.
At our Sunnyvale preschool, San Jose preschool and Santa Clara daycare, we meet and exceed these ratio standards, which are determined by the state of California. Not only do we better meet the needs of students with a strong child to adult ratio, but our children are also safer, and that’s at the forefront of every parent’s mind.
- Ask About Safety – At every daycare and preschool you visit, ask about safety procedures. Additionally, make note of the fencing and security around the building. It should be very secure and not easy for little ones to open gates or doors. Ask about the pickup and drop-off, as well, as there should be a policy regarding the proper procedures.
- Ask About The Hours – It’s important that you know when it’s ok to drop students off and when you must pick them up. If this doesn’t work with your schedule, you will need to find a facility that meets your needs. Keep in mind, that most preschools or daycares charge you a fee if you are late for pickup. Dropping students off late also is a difficulty, because it tends to be disruptive. Make sure you understand the hours and all of the policies set forth by the school.
So, which should you choose? Daycare? Preschool? In the end, you need to find a place where your child will be secure and as happy as possible. You might start out thinking you want a rigorous academic preschool and then end up with a school that is less structured simply because your gut feeling tells you this is the right place for your child.
We always encourage parents to trust their instincts. You know what is best for your child, and every child is unique and their needs are unique. Often, location is a huge factor, as well, and you definitely want to select a facility that is either close to work or close to home.
We offer three locations, including our San Jose preschool, our Santa Clara daycare and our newest location, our beautiful Sunnyvale preschool. Please feel free to give us a call and set up a tour of one of our facilities so you can decide if Precious Moments is the right fit for your family.