Your little learner is turning 2 years old, you have decided to go back to work and that leaves you trying to navigate the world of early childhood education. While investigating different options, you may hear words such as “day care” and “preschool” used to describe different programs and care environments. If you are wondering if these two educational avenues are the same or actually differ, you aren’t alone.
If you are working full-time and need someone to watch your child from early in the morning until late in the afternoon, preschool probably isn’t for you. Most preschools follow a shorter day schedule that includes partial school days similar to those found in an a.m./p.m. kindergarten program. Day cares usually differ from the traditional preschool in their hours of operation. With a primary focus on providing child care when the parent is away, day cares have a longer day that accommodates the working mom’s schedule, such as 7 a.m. through 6 p.m.
If you look at the actual words “day care” and “preschool” you will notice that the first centers on the “care,” while the later includes “school”. That said, the typical day care program focuses on offering care or a caregiver in lieu of the parent. Preschool programs, on the other hand, are more school-like in nature and tend to focus on the overall learning aspect. This isn’t to say that your child won’t learn during his day care day. Many day cares provide a rich curriculum that includes lessons and activities as well as comfort and care.
There are a wide variety of locations that house both day cares and preschools. That said, preschools tend to exist either independently or in elementary schools. Some preschool programs are actually part of the area’s school district. Although day cares often have private buildings, similar to day care locations, they aren’t always typical for school districts. Additionally, day cares may include family child care providers that are located in the owner’s home. Family day cares, unlike formal preschool programs, offer a home environment when it comes to care-giving.
Technically a “pre” “school” means that the educational institution is teaching children under school age. Although this could include any child under the kindergarten age, most formal preschools focus on kids ages 3 through 5. Unlike preschools with a limited age range, day cares are broad early childhood environments that may take on infants as young as 6 weeks old. Some preschools may allow children younger than 3 to start classes. This typically involves a separation of younger and older children, with the little ones entering into a less-structured pre-preschool program.
Does your child seem like she has a will of steel? Homeschooling a strong willed child may feel overwhelming at times, but you can do it. It just takes a lot of pre-planning, a whole lot of determination and a huge amount of patience. Once you find the right way to get through to your child, that strong will is destined to lead her to success in life.
Lots of Hands-On
Sometimes a strong willed child does not want to take direction because she thinks you will make her sit at a table and write in a workbook for hours. This could indicate that your child has a precocious mind that craves hands-on and interactive instruction. Try to bring hands-on activities into the day as much as possible. For example, instead of talking about or reading about cells, show your strong willed child how to use a real microscope to look at cells on a slide. The more your child can take an active role in her learning, the more she will feel understood and will take your lead.
Active minds need a lot of stimulation. Without proper stimulation, your child may seem frustrated, sassy and obstinate. It can become easy to misinterpret this for just being strong willed. One way to provide more stimulation for your child is to utilize nature. Take your child for regular nature walks and hikes so that she can experience the wonders of the natural world. When your little one becomes surrounded by chirping birds, colorful leaves, croaking frogs and flying insects, she will not have time to act sassy.
Allowing Children to Choose
Your strong willed child might feel less likely to combat you if she feels like she has somewhat of a say in what she learns about. This child-led method works especially well for gifted children and kids with more focused interests. Allow your child to choose a topic to learn about, then work all of the other materials around the topic. For example, if your child picks out frogs as her topic, create math problems related to frogs, check out books on frogs at the library and take your child to see frogs at your local nature park or zoo.
Children without a structured routine can sometimes feel nervous because they do not know what to expect. This can often result in a fussy, cranky and defiant child. Keeping a regular schedule can become especially important when you homeschool because you do not have anyone else telling you when to get up, when to teach, when to eat meals or when to go outside. Plan out your schedule ahead of time and share it with your child, which will make her feel more relaxed and will help her know what to expect.