Difference between Kindergarten and Daycare

Key Difference: A day care refers to an institution that provides care and supervision to infants and young children in the absence of their legal parents. Kindergarten is a type of preschool for children from three to five years of age. In some places, it denotes the first year of schooling and focuses on five year old children. However, the usage of the terms varies from country to country.

Day care provides an opportunity to the parents to leave their children in the custody of some responsible people. These people take good care of the children in the absence of their parents. Day care can also be referred to as a crèche, nursery or child care.

The Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 defines day care as: 

‘a service which consists of any form of care (whether or not provided to any extent in the form of an educational activity), supervised by a responsible person and not excepted from this definition by regulations, provided for children, on premises other than domestic premises, during the day (whether or not it is provided on a regular basis or commences or ends during the hours of daylight’

The concept of day care emerged in France around 1840. Later, United States followed the concept by opening various institutions like the ones in France. Day care industry is a flourishing industry. Day care centers are generally preferred by families where both the parents are working. A child care provides all the amenities that are required to take good care of the children. Day care centers serve infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. The workers of these centers provide guidance to the children in daily living and recreational activities. They are also responsible for the physical care of children. Many day care centers also provide early learning programs.

"Children are like tiny flowers: They are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers." - Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852)

These words define the original essence of a kindergarten. ‘kindergarten’ means the children’s garden, this term was introduced by an educational pioneer, Fridrick Frobel. He recognized the need of a place for children that promotes curiosity within them and also focuses on the over-all development of a child. In today’s context, it denotes the first year of compulsory schooling which focuses on children between three to five years of age.

These institutions are custom-made to suit children of this particular age. In countries where kindergarten is meant for children up to five years of age, any six year old child is eligible to take admission in the first grade of school. Generally, the teachers need to be certified in elementary education to teach in a kindergarten. Unlike a day-care, a kindergarten does not focus much on child care. Kindergartens are more education oriented. The classes in a kindergarten follow the concept of an elementary school. They usually operate during normal school hours. 

Comparison between Kindergarten and Daycare:





Kindergarten denotes a type of preschool. It generally focuses on five year old children.

A day care refers to an institution that provides supervision to infants and young children in the absence of their legal parents


From German Kindergarten, literally "children's garden"

From Old English dæg "day," also "lifetime," + Old English carian, cearian "be anxious, grieve; to feel concern or interest"


  • It involves learning through play-based methods.
  • It helps in building a child’s confidence.
  • A fun-based environment helps in fast learning.
  • They offer various activities which stimulate and engage a child’s mind.
  • It prepares the children for primary schools.
  • It helps to develop social skills.
  • Daycare centers are often inspected to ensure the quality of the care provided to the children.
  • Generally, they are less expensive than hiring a nanny.
  • Staff members are usually trained and professional.
  • They aim to provide an organized and structured form of care.
  • Are available for various age groups of children


In few countries like India and Korea, kindergarten classes are divided into two categories –

  • Lower Kindergarten – for the children between three to four years of age. Focuses more on play based activities.
  • Upper Kindergarten - for the children between four to five years of age. More inclined towards the education’s side.

Day care centers can be divided into two categories – Non-profit daycare and For-profit daycare.

  • Non-profit day care centers are often run by local governments like municipalities.
  • For-profit day care centers can be operated by any individual or group. However, most of the times, a license is required to start a day care.
Hours Generally, full day Generally, for a few hours
Types of activities Age-appropriate developmental activities Subject-based activities to promote the academic skills of children

Image Courtesy: tomboymom.com, freeimages.co.uk

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