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Posted By Daycarespotter.com - Parent Blog Contributor on 04/05/2018 in Useful Information For Parents

Finding the Best Childcare for Your Family: Home Daycares vs. Traditional Preschools

Finding the Best Childcare for Your Family: Home Daycares vs. Traditional Preschools

As parents, one of the most important decisions we make is who will care for and educate our child. This decision starts very early for most of us depending on how long we are able to stay at home with our own child after they are born.

We, of course, want our children to be in a loving environment where they will learn and grow in the best and safest way possible, but what is the right choice?

As I’m sure you have heard before, there is the old adage: “Whatever works for you and your child.” This is true across all realms of parenting, but finding what is best for you, your child, and your situation can be difficult when it comes to childcare. You want to find a place where your child will be given structure and be acquiring new skills and knowledge, but that must be balanced with them feeling loved and secure in their environment.


Two of the most popular and affordable options for childcare of young children are home daycares and traditional daycares or preschools. There are positive and negative qualities for each option.

The following pros and cons may or may not apply to every home daycare or traditional daycare situation, but we at DaycareSpotter.com believe they are a good place to start when considering your options for childcare.

The Pros and Cons of Home Daycares


Nurturing, Home Environment

Consistent Caretaker All Day - Daycares often have different teachers at different times of the day or even day to day.

Authentic Teachable Moments

Flexible Hours for Parents’ Schedules

More One on One Attention

Can Offer Strong Educational Programs (though not guaranteed)

Children of Multiple Ages - Kids can learn from older children and serve as a helper/mentor to younger children. Also, this allows for siblings of different ages to be together.

Typically Less Expensive Than Other Child Care Options

Outings to the Park, Museums, Library, Etc. (depending on number of children in home daycare and the policies of the caregiver)

Caregiver Becomes Like a Part of the Family - Children may be in the care of the same person for many years and develop a bond not possible in a traditional preschool/daycare environment.


Safety Concerns - Traditional preschools often have a better secured entrance/exit than a home environment and may even offer in-class video cameras for surveillance.

Lack of a Structured Curriculum or Education (in some cases)

Potentially No Peers Their Own Age

Caretaker May Not Have Any Teaching Experience or Training

Single Caretaker - The caregiver may not have a backup for sick days.

Fear that Child is doing Unstructured Activities - such as watching TV

Fewer Books, Toys, Playground Equipment, etc. Catered to the Age of the Child

Closed for Holidays and Personal Vacations

Building Typically Less Child Friendly than as a Traditional Preschool Building - For instance, in a traditional preschool bathrooms are built with young children in mind with smaller toilets, lower sinks, etc.

Fewer Recommendations/Reviews Available

Pros and Cons of Traditional Preschool


Stricter Licensing Requirements in Some States and More National Accreditations - Although, only about 10% of preschools achieve National Accreditation, it is easy to search through the NAEYP’s database to find them.

Early Childhood Educated Teachers

Controlled Curriculum and Strong Educational Programs

Reliable and Open Daily - If a teacher calls in sick, another staff member will be called in to cover.

Secure Entrances and Video Cameras throughout the Preschool Environment (this varies depending on the location)

Children have Peers Their Own Age

Classroom Environment Catered to the Age of the Child

Enrichment Activities may be offered such as field trips, music teacher, art teacher, dance classes, etc.

Child Friendly Building - fewer or no stairs, child sized bathrooms, etc..

Easy to Find Recommendations/Reviews Online and From Other Parents


High Turnover in Staff

Large Class Sizes - High Student/Teacher Ratios

Less Personal or Individual Care

Not in Home Environment for Authentic Learning Opportunities

Often Times More Expensive

Less Flexible Hours or Schedules - Rigid Drop Off and Pick Up Times

Greater Risk of Injury with So Many Children in One Space

More Sickness/Germs Being Spread

Will Not Provide Care for Sick Child

Can Be Hard to Find a Spot for Infants - Many daycares take a limited number of infants and those spots can be gone quickly.

One of the major questions when comparing these two types of childcare is the kind of education your child will be receiving. Do you want their learning to be more structured and follow a specific curriculum or do you want their learning to be organic and take its own course?

University of Delaware professor, Roberta Golinkoff, who recently co-authored the book Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us about Raising Successful Children, said, “There’s an extreme overemphasis on content for American kids. It’s, like, all that matters is getting information in kids’ heads, and that’s unfortunate,” she said. “Content is crucially important, but it’s not the only thing that matters. It’s not just all about memorizing the ABCs.”

So what else should childcare providers focus on?  According to experts: plenty of free play, plenty of opportunities to socialize and be part of a community, and plenty of exposure to new experiences.                                      

“A good preschool tries to help children gain self-confidence, become more independent, and develop interpersonal skills,” writes the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in the book Caring For Your Baby and Young Child.

The AAP also acknowledges concerns about programs that are created to cater to parents’ fear or guilt rather than children’s needs: “Be wary of programs that claim to teach academic skills or ‘speed up’ children’s intellectual development. From a developmental standpoint, most preschoolers are not yet ready to begin formal education, and pushing them will only prejudice them against learning.”

This research can be a helpful lens to look through when making decisions about our child’s daycare whether we are looking at a home based daycare or a more traditional preschool environment. Both choices have the potential offer this type of learning and experience to your child.

In any situation, you should always tour the facilities, talk to the caregivers and teachers, and ask for recommendations and references from other parents. Your gut instinct about any place or person is probably right. If you don’t get a good feeling from a daycare or things don’t seem to quite add up, follow that instinct and look into other options. 

Your child’s safety and well being should always take first priority when it comes to choosing the right location for their care. The amount of structure they receive in their education and the pros and cons of each type of childcare environment can work better or worse for different children and their parents.

Again, ultimately, you have to do what is best for your family and your situation, but you should go into your choice with as much information as possible. There are plenty of great resources out there to aid you in your choice, so do your research and use them.

Best of luck to you in your search for the right place for your child! It is a daunting task, but knowing your child is safe, loving environment where they are happy and learning is well worth the time and effort.

Additional Resources to Aid Parents in Their Childcare Search:

National Association for the Education of Young People

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - Office of Child Care 

Child Care Aware

Child Care Center

Angie’s List