Is Daycare the same as Early Childhood Education?

Is Being a Daycare Teacher the same as Early Childhood Education?

Both of the terms daycare and early childhood education describe care for children between the ages of 3 months to 6 years. In the past, the differences were vast but not so much from the late 20th century on. 

Mid 20th century and before daycare would imply:

  • no requirement for a child to be potty trained to enroll.
  • learning the very basics like ABC’s, 123’s and Colors and maybe the days of the week.
  • programs were often found in home settings or churches.
  • a safe place to learn social interactions.
  • supervision and care for basic needs while parents were at work.

When the term Early Childhood Education (ECE) was born, additional concepts were added to what a day in the life of a child care program would look like.

E.C.E. programs focus on:

  • developing critical thinking skills.
  • experiencing structured learning and play.
  • education and expanded learning.
  • supervision while learning social/emotional skills.
  • developing independence in self-care routines.

Daycare or ChildCare?

To be honest, it is not my favorite term but it is still widely used. Within the industry, we seem to agree that as educators, we take care of children, not days! Make sense?

Keep in mind, parents still use the term daycare and many schools still have daycare in their name. For a deeper discussion on the development and use of these industry terms and more, check out our recent blog discussing the differences and preferences between these widely used childcare industry terms.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines daycare as supervision of and care for children that is provided during the day by a person or organization. And in reality, that is the primary role of any childcare program. Even state licensing agencies will agree. What programs choose to do with the hours it is in operation is up to them. That’s where the differences come in between schools:

  • What philosophy do they follow?
  • What are their child care priorities?
  • How well are they staffed to execute on their ideals?


Childcare is a more widely used term. According to Wikipedia child care/day care is the care and supervision of children ranging from 2 weeks old to 18 years. It mentions this to be a broad topic with many theories and practices.

So, the bottom line is the term can be used interchangeably but it is much less used today. I think like most things it has evolved just like what is happening in the classrooms.

Should i work in a daycare or preschool?

When taking college coursework for a career with young children we would encourage you to work in a variety of programs. Why? Doing this helps solidify which philosophy in practice best fits you. When you are in college you have a good sense of which practice you like best, but when you see it in action or are a part of the team guiding that learning, you may change your mind.

When searching the internet for work you can use the term daycare teacher or preschool teacher. The search results will pull up anything in the childcare industry near you or a city of your choice.

Piazza can help you find the right fit

We believe the best way to experience different programs is to work with an early education staffing agency like ours.

At Piazza, we help find suitable temporary placements for early childhood education professionals that suit your skillset and desired work environment.

The beauty of a temporary preschool placement is that you get to experience the school and gain experience with minimal risk. One of the things daycare or ECE administrators look at on your resume is how long you have worked at any given program. Through a Piazza Preschool Placement, you building experience but not at the risk of taking a position and leaving it if you aren’t happy with the program.  If you do this in “trying” different programs it can become a red flag for future employers.

In short, whether you call it a Daycare or a Preschool or an Early Childhood Education Center, the fundamental requirements are pretty similar. It really just becomes a question of what feels right to you.  If you are an early childhood educator who would like to work in different environments as well as maintain control of your schedule and work/life balance, reach out to Piazza and let us find a position that is perfect for you!

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