Difference between Preschool and Kindergarten

Key Difference: A preschool refers to an educational institution that has been designed for children between the infancy and age of formal school education. 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 terms varies from country to country.

A preschool denotes any type of an educational institution that prepares a child for a formal education system. A preschool does not specify any particular type of institution. In order to be a preschool, the school must provide elementary education to children. They basically provide care and education for children below the statutory age.

One of the important benefits of a preschool includes the development of social skills within the children. Children develop language and vocabulary skills. Functional hours of a preschool may vary from one another. Preschools also focus on nurturing the imagination and creativity of a child.

Kindergarten means a garden for children. This term was invented by Friedrich Froebel, who established the very first kindergarten program in Germany in 1837. He emphasized the importance of play in a child's life. He considered games as a prime contributor to the intellectual, social and spiritual development of the children. It is a type of preschool. However, some schools provide formal education integrated with the kindergarten classes.

A kindergarten refers to a classroom program that is usually for children from three to five years of age. In a kindergarten, education techniques are largely based on play and exploration methods. After kindergarten, a child starts his first year of formal education in a school. Most kindergartens aim to teach social skills, self-esteem and develop a child’s academic ability. In some of the places, it denotes the first year of schooling and focuses on five year old children. In these particular places, a kindergarten offers more formal education than other types of formal schools.

Comparison between Preschool and Kindergarten:





Denotes any type of institution that has been designed for children who are too young to go to school.

Kindergarten denotes a type of preschool that focuses on the children from three to five years of age.


From Latin prae-, prefixal meaning first, fore, prior, pro + Old English scol, from Latin schola "intermission of work, leisure for learning; learned conversation, debate; lecture; meeting place for teachers and students, place of instruction; disciples of a teacher, body of followers, sect"

From German Kindergarten, literally "children's garden"


  • They serve as the foundation for academic learning.
  • It assists the child to grasp phonics and reading skills.
  • Interaction with other children.
  • Assists in developing social skills of a child.
  • Prepare a child for the primary education.
  • 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.


Some of the types are -

  • Montessori – Developed by educator Maria Montessori, they intend to develop a child’s senses.
  • Waldorf – Based on the teachings of Austrian writer Rudolf Steiner. Teachers need to be Waldorf certified.
  • Reggio Emilia – It encourages exploration and concentrates on the importance of community and self-expression.
  • Bank Street – Based on the educational philosophy of John Dewy. Focuses on hands-on activities, etc.

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

Image Courtesy: umcmemorial.com, lakeviewadventist.wordpress.com

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