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Dear Dr. Day Care:

We recently moved to this area from Florida.  We are parents looking for a program for our two and four year old daughters for the fall.  What is the difference between day care, preschool, child care, nursery school, and family day care programs?   Which do you think we should choose?

                                                                                          -Floridian Mom



Dear Floridian Mom,


All the programs you have listed in your question fall under the category of early childhood programs and/or early care and education.

The program you need to choose for your children should meet your family needs.  I would suggest that whatever the program you choose, check that the program is licensed by the state agency.  Licensed programs give standards of minimum requirements with regards to the safety of children.

Child care, day care, and family daycare are defined as full time (6 a.m. - 6 p.m.) child care programs which can incorporate a nursery school/preschool curriculum into the daily schedule.  When you hear “nursery school” or “preschool,” it indicates educational components.  Some nursery school or preschool programs may operate in conjunction with the school calendar or have part time hours available.  These programs typically enroll children from ages 3 years to kindergarten age.  However, I am finding most programs are operating longer hours and becoming flexible to meet parents’ busy schedules. 

Whichever program you choose, I would suggest you interview and visit at least three to five facilities.  While on your tours, look to see what classroom your child will be in and how many teachers will be in the classroom, talk to the teachers and director, and see what educational concepts the center is learning.  Look online to read reviews from other parents and to see how the center communicates with current families. Choose the facility that fits your families’ needs and that you feel is the best fit.

If you ever have any questions or want additional guidance choosing a center, please contact me directly at any time.



              Dr. Mary Ann Shallcross Smith




“Dr. Day Care” is Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, Ed.D., CEO/President of Child Care Consultants & Facilities Management, Dr. Day Care Learning Center, Kids Klub, and Therapeutic Child Care Services.  We educate infant, toddler, preschool, kindergarten, and school-age/camp children.

“Dr. Day Care” can be reached anytime by calling 401-723-22 ext. 222 or by e-mail at: For additional Parent Resources, such as informational videos, visit our website at:   A new series on Potty Training for parents is located at:


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