When someone is looking for care for a young child, the terms preschool and nursery school are often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two, though institutions may not tell parents that difference in the hope of securing their business. So, if you’re confused when comparing preschool vs nursery school, let’s learn about the differences and similarities between them.
Similarities between Nursery Schools and Preschools
Both preschools and nursery schools cater to children older than infants. The age of entry depends on the school. Some preschools and nurseries require children to be toilet trained to start, while others permit children as young as 18-months, as long as parental anxiety isn’t a problem and they have good language skills. Nurseries and pre-schools may be publicly run or privately run. They follow similar rules on required vaccinations and handling of illnesses.
What Makes Nursery Schools Different
Some nursery schools have infant rooms that accept children as young as six weeks. These children tend to stay with the nursery school and move up to the preschool classrooms in the nursery school. Some nursery schools accept school-aged children for after school care.
They are almost always open during business hours, providing all day care for parents who work full-time. A preschool may only have lunch and an afternoon snack, while nursery schools may offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Nursery schools tend to be more willing to accept either part time or full-time care. A few accept “drop in” care.
The relative lack of formal curriculum makes it easier to find nursery schools that fit your beliefs and values if you want the nursery school to reinforce them.
In the UK, nursery schools need to be registered with the Office for Standards in Education. If you live in South Wales, take a look at Oakleigh House School, an independent nursery in Swansea registered with the state.
What Makes Preschools Different
Preschools tend to accept children right before school age. In this regard, it is rare to find a “preschool” willing to accept children under three and few preschools provide educational services or childcare after school for children old enough to attend formal school. Relatively few preschools have private nurseries, and if they do, it may be in a separate building on-site.
Preschools tend to follow a prescribed curriculum, taking the “school” part of their name very seriously. Preschools are required to have a certain percentage of their staff certified in early childhood education. Conversely, this raises the price for preschool over nursery schools.
Many preschools run on a school schedule or even shorter schedule, such as an 8 AM to 2 PM each day. If you need childcare from 7 AM to 7 PM, you need to look for a nursery school instead.
Both preschools and nursery schools accept children between the ages of three and five, while nursery schools typically accept children both younger and older. Preschools tend to have a formal curriculum and trained teachers, though this increases their costs. Nursery schools have a more relaxed environment and more flexible enrollment terms and they are also cheaper and have a wider variety of programs.