Preschool vs Pre Kindergarten [Similarities & Differences]

Early childhood education or early care education is the bedrock of a child’s educational journey. Attending preschool or pre-kindergarten introduces a child to another circle other than his/her immediate family. The child can interact, communicate, develop critical thinking ability, and develop healthy and robust relationships.

The significant similarity between the two is that they both prepare the child for Kindergarten, providing him/her the necessary introductory foundation. However, the preschool’s age bracket is different from that of pre-kindergarten as well as their curriculums. The age bracket is between two and a half years and four years for preschools, and four to five years old for pre-kindergarten.

Both the preschool and the pre-kindergarten offer all of the above benefits of early childhood education to a child. Though they provide primarily the same benefits, pre-kindergarten is however distinct from preschool. Keep reading this article to find out the similarities and differences between these two early childhood education programs.

Preschool Vs. Pre-Kindergarten

The preschool and the pre-Kindergarten are both the first stop for a child before kindergarten. The quality of the childhood education a child is exposed to, have a significant impact on the child’s growth and development. However, children’s developmental milestones differ from one to another; while some are highflyers, some need an extra boost to catch up.

It is the parent’s desire that their child gets the best and quality education that fosters future success. Hence, the search for a formal early childhood education is a top priority on their mind. While wondering which is better, the preschool or the pre-kindergarten, this article will help clarify any doubt you might have about both.


The preschool is generally privately owned with no affiliation to any bigger school. It is an early childhood education established to prepare children for kindergarten and beyond and promote a child’s growth and development. The age bracket of children admitted into the preschool is between two and a half and four years old.

The majority of children in the preschool are leaving home for the first time; hence being among other kids or in the classroom is new. The reason why the environment and setting of the preschool are beautiful and conducive, especially the classrooms. Classrooms are painted with lively and beautiful colors to attract the children and are equipped with toys and shapes.

The Preschool Curriculum

The preschool runs a very flexible and straightforward curriculum that gives the child enough playtime and interactions with their peers. Their activities are play-based and are directed by their instructors to learn, communicate and think critically even while they play. The following are activities offered by the preschool:

  1. Physical activity
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Science
  5. Maths
  6. Art and craft 
  7. Music and Dance

Wondering how they learn Science and Maths? Their teacher guides them to participate in activities like 

  • Writing, drawing, cutting, gluing, coloring, and painting
  • Counting, sorting, identifying and playing with shapes, measuring
  • Working in groups, helping each other complete their task, and cleaning their environment
  • They are involved in both inside and outside games
  • Reading and listening to their teacher read to them
  • Act pretend play and sing songs, especially the nursery rhymes 
  • They are involved in sports and physical exercises

All of these play-based activities help the child grow and develop in these three significant ways

  • Physical Development
  • Growing through varieties of visual and texture experiences
  • Develop fine and gross motor skills
  • Build muscle and coordination
  • Social and emotional development
  • Interact with peer and build healthy relationships and friendship
  • Conflict resolution and cooperation
  • Self-control, self-confidence, and communication
  • Cognitive development
  • Develop perception and sensation abilities
  • Acquire literacy and language skill
  • Practice focusing on a task and completing it
  • Learning how to use symbols in representing ideas
  • Curiosity and discovery skills

A Preschool is a perfect option for many families, especially those with high flyer kids who show interest in learning. Depending on your location, the Preschool can help your child prepare for the readiness evaluation exam require before enrolling in a kindergarten. Before deciding on which way to go, below are some pros and cons of a preschool.

Pros Of A Preschool

The benefits of the preschool cannot be overemphasized as this is not a comprehensive list. It is also worth knowing that the benefit differs among the preschool activities. However, below are some significant benefits of a preschool.

  1. The preschool exposes your child to early childhood learning, which is an excellent way of inspiring a passion for learning in a child.
  2. Provides opportunities for a child to play and interact with other kids while growing and learning at the same time.
  3. There are well trained and experience teachers that direct the children’s activities 
  4. Kids are exposed to lots of activities that help their physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development
  5. They help prepare your child for the evaluation exams into kindergarten.
  6. Preschool makes transitioning process into a formal school smooth and easy
  7. Preschool has a safe and conducive environment for learning
  8. Take the stress off you as some preschools are home away from home
  9. Help kids learn independence and self-reliance as it’s their first stop outside their family.

Cons Of The Preschool

The preschool may not be an option for every child as developmental milestones differ. So parents need to be able to identify their child’s needs before opting for a preschool. Even though a preschool offers a lot of benefits, there are still some concerns to be considered.

  1. Some preschool accepts kids of about two and a half years, and learning subjects like reading, writing, science, and mathematics can be too early for them. When kids get frustrated, learning is no longer interesting to them; hence they won’t assimilate anything.
  2. Children in preschool might not have the opportunity of one-on-one time with the teacher like some other educational system. The preschool system focuses more on kids interacting with other kids to develop their cognitive, social, and emotional skills. Also, kids suffering from separation anxiety and need more personal attention might not get it at the preschool. While some get along eventually, some find it difficult to cope.
  3. Even with the play-based activities of the preschool, some academic preschools have less time for social activities. This rigid system can be boring for children between three to five years old who want to play.
  4. Children can be very messy with lots of potty accidents. A child can fall ill due to germs and infections contracted in the class.
  5. A child can get injured when they are not attended to due to the teacher-to-student ratio.
  6. Children that resumes at the kindergarten immediately after preschool might not get the necessary boost needed owing to their play-based curriculum

The cost of preschool varies depending on the location and the activities offers. Preschools in an urban area can be a bit expensive compare to those in rural or less developed regions. However, the choice of the preschool school depends on your budget.

Parents must carry out every necessary investigation about a preschool before enrolling their child. The well-been of a child leaving home for the first time cannot be undermined. Ensure that the preschool provides a nurturing and safe environment for your child and accommodates your child’s needs.


Pre-kindergarten, compared to a preschool, is mainly affiliated with a bigger school. It is also an early childhood education system that prepares children for kindergarten and beyond and promotes a child’s development and growth. The age bracket of children admitted into pre-kindergarten is between four years old and four years old.

The pre-kindergarten is mainly for children who will be resuming at the kindergarten the next school year. The pre-kindergarten or kindergarten prep class, as some call it, is more advanced than the Preschool. And their curriculum is more structured than the unstructured playtime in some preschool. 

The Pre-kindergarten is well structured and set up to prepare a child for what to expect at Kindergarten. It is more of an advanced preschool as they continue to learn foundational skills, which aligns with Kindergarten requirements. 

The Pre-kindergarten Curriculum

Just as the preschool, pre-kindergarten helps a child develop physical, social and emotional, cognitive skills, and more. 

  1. Work more independently and build self-confidence and self-discipline
  2. They learn Science, Mathematics, and critical thinking
  3. Encourage children to develop personal projects in any interesting area of choice with the assistance of their teacher
  4. Detailed-oriented projects are carried out collectively to learn team bonding
  5. Develop Language and vocabulary skills
  6. Strong intellectual development

Pros Of The Pre-Kindergarten 

  1. Children are better equipped to take the evaluation exam needed to get into the kindergarten
  2. Some states offer the pre-kindergarten program at no cost 
  3. It makes a child technically independent and competent
  4. It makes transitioning to kindergarten easy
  5. Their already structured curriculum exposes the children to what to expect at kindergarten.
  6. They have a warm and conducive learning environment. 

Con Of The Pre-Kindergarten

  1. Too rigid with ample time for play-based activities
  2. It can be boring for some children that are not high flyers and need one on one attention

The cost of the pre-kindergarten varies depending on the location, just as the preschool. Some private prep-kindergarten charges according to the program offered, while some states provide pre-kindergarten programs for free. It is left for Parents to decide which of the pre-k they would want their child to attend.

Common Similarities and Differences of the Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten


  1. They are both early childhood educational system that prepares a child for Kindergarten
  2. Their curriculums help simulates the children’s mind, thereby inspiring them to develop an interest in learning
  3. A warm and nurturing environment that enhances a child’s physical, social and emotional growth
  4. They provide another experience for the child outside the home and family setting
  5. They prepare the children for the formal schooling system
  6. Make transition process easy and smooth 


  1. The age bracket of preschool and pre-kindergarten is different. The preschool admits children from age two or two and a half to four, while pre-kindergarten is majorly four to five years old.
  2. The Pre-kindergarten has an excellent structured curriculum that aligns with the needs of the Kindergarten. On the other hand, the Preschool majorly runs play-based activities, and kids have a lot of time to play.
  3. Preschool study time is usually very flexible and shorter compared to that of pre-kindergarten. Due to the more advanced pre-kindergarten activities, they tend to spend more time in school compared to Preschool.
  4. The preschool is mostly isolated with no affiliation to another more prominent and progressive school. Pre-kindergarten is usually affiliated with a more extensive and advanced school.
  5. Preschools are owned mainly by a private organization, while the state sponsors public pre-kindergarten.

With all of the above similarities and differences, the parent will make the right choice. They will make a better decision about which of the early childhood education is ideal for their child. Below are some highlights some things to be considered

  • A child that is less than four years old should be enrolled at the preschool
  • Children that are highflyers and have been homeschooled till about four years can be taken to the pre-kindergarten
  • Children that are resuming at kindergarten the next school year can attend the pre-kindergarten
  • Children that need to brush up for the evaluation exam can also be considered for the pre-k

Final Verdict

Early childhood education impacts the child a lot compared to a child enrolled into kindergarten directly. Parents can opt for preschool instead of pre-kindergarten, especially those with children who show great interest in learning and are below four years old. Nevertheless, the choice depends mainly on the need of the child.

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