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Preschool, Nursery School, Day Care, or Home Child Care in Rockland County: What’s the Difference?

When you first start looking for child care in Rockland County, you may be overwhelmed not only by the number of different choices, but also by how many different names they all have! So what’s the difference between Tiny Tots Day Care, Tiny Tots Nursery School, and Tiny Tots Preschool? Well, maybe nothing – or you may find that there are a few differences.


When an early childhood care facility has taken on the name ‘preschool’, they generally intend it to be just that: a place to prepare children for school and kindergarten in the coming years. Because of this, preschools usually take children that are between the ages of 2 ½ years to 5 years old.

Their curriculum is usually very education-focused with an emphasis on play-based learning. This means that while the children are still generally ‘just playing’ throughout the entire day, that play is also based around learning about basics such as colors, numbers, and names of things.

Just like their curriculum is a bit more structured than nursery schools or day cares, their hours of operation and the different class times are also generally more structured. Usually a child will attend preschool for a certain number of days per week and usually only during the morning or afternoon on those days.

Of course, there are always exceptions, and some preschools do choose to stay open later to accommodate moms and dads that work. But generally, you can expect certain times and hours with preschools.

Day Care

Day care is much like preschool in that children play throughout the day. In this environment, however, the child care workers act more like custodians or guardians of the children rather than educators. While they still fully interact and play along with the children, there is generally no real curriculum involved.

Day cares also differ from preschools in their hours and the times that children attend. These types of early childhood care centers usually run all day and some are even starting to stay open later to accommodate moms and dads that work late hours.

Children can usually attend day care at a much earlier age. Most day cares start accepting children who are 12–18 months, while some will take children who are even younger.

Nursery Schools

Nursery schools are very similar to day cares. The only real difference between the two is that nursery schools will often take children who are very young, sometimes as young as four months old.

Your choice of child care in Rockland County will depend entirely on your situation and the different needs of both you and your child. The one thing that remains consistent throughout preschools, day cares, and nursery schools is the licensing requirements.

While there may be slight differences when it comes to things such as child to worker ratio (usually the younger the children, the more workers necessary), you can rest assured that sending your child to any of these will mean that you are sending your child to people who are qualified to take care of them and who have had many background checks performed on them.

Home Day Cares

Looking at child care in Rockland County that is run out of an individual’s home is a good choice for many. Lots of parents know another parent that runs one out of their home, or have heard about one and considered it. Home day cares can also be more flexible in when you can pick your child up, and they may even be more open to considering things such as payment plans.

However, home day cares very rarely require any licensing whatsoever, meaning that the workers there may not have background checks performed and aren’t required to meet any licensing standards or requirements. Because of this, you’ll have nothing official to fall back on in your search so you’ll have to rely on your own intuitiveness and persistence a little bit more when looking at them. Still, it’s important to understand that these can be the best option for your child and will still provide plenty of social opportunity and quality fun time when they can’t be with you!

Once you understand the difference between all the different titles that early childhood care centers hold, it’s time to start finding one that’s right for you! What’s most important is that you start looking as soon as you realize you need day care, even if you’re not going to need it for another year. Finding the right day care provider that fits your needs and that you feel comfortable with can take awhile, and it’s definitely not a decision you want to make when you’re under pressure to ‘just find somebody’!