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What Actually is Preschool? (And How is it Different from Daycare or Kindergarten?)

Just when you think you’ve got this parenting thing down, and a new phase hits and you’re suddenly the newbie again.

You’ve conquered breastfeeding vs formula.

You’ve gotten past some (or all) of the potty training.

You’ve learned zippers over buttons on everything.

Now your child is a few years away from starting school and now your parent friends are talking about preschool.

"Great. Here we go again into newbie territory."

That’s why we are here to help through all the stages of early child development (from 6 months to 6th grade in fact).

Let’s start from the beginning, what the heck are people talking about when they mention preschool?

What is Preschool?

In a very broad sense, preschool can be any early childhood educational program that your child participates in before kindergarten. Preschool has also been called nursery school, pre-primary school, pre-K and can be done as daycare or separate to daycare.

Since kindergarten starts at 5 years old in September of the year, preschool programs traditionally start between the ages of 3-5 up until then.

Preschool programs can vary between once a week for a few hours to full days Monday through Friday.

What’s the difference between daycare and preschool?

While both daycare and preschool are done traditionally at an early childhood center, the intention of each program is very different.

Daycare is usually supervised childcare provided during the day that can have educational elements to it.

Especially at Little Tiger Academy where we utilize our preschool curriculum into our daycare schedule.

But educational activities aren’t central to daycare. Preschool is designed to help prepare and educate children BEFORE they start kindergarten.

What’s the difference between kindergarten and preschool?

Kindergarten is either private or public education that starts once a child is 5 years old while preschool is for children 3-5 years old until they can start Kindergarten.

While not mandatory in Utah, school attendance starts at age 6 unless otherwise excused. Kindergarten typically has two different class options, an AM class (~9 am - 12 pm) and a PM class (~12-3 pm)

Preschool helps prepare children academically, socially, and emotionally for kindergarten. Preschool programs vary in their length and commitment.

What’s the difference between pre-K and preschool?

Preschool programs are usually for children ages 3-4 as a starting point for their education and Pre-K programs are usually for children 4-5 as a precursor to kindergarten.

At Little Tiger Academy we offer both pre-K and preschool programs.

Little Tiger Academy Preschool

Our preschool program for our 3-4 year olds will cultivate social skills and get children used to a structured school environment. Children will learn about friendships, getting along with others, listening, and exploring. They will also participate in a variety of activities, such as: storytime, snack, music, movement, and more.

We will work on one letter a week, focusing on recognition and sound, and we will also work on name writing. When helping your child write their name, we will encourage them to use a capital for the first letter and the following letters in lower case. Preschoolers love to use capital letters, so it is important that they learn the right way!

Letters and their sounds are reviewed daily, as well as number recognition and counting. . We will concentrate on recognizing numbers 1-10 but counting to 20. It is my goal that each of my students is prepared for their next milestone in life and to have fun along the way.

We will also learn the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge of Allegiance is recited daily.

Little Tiger Academy Pre-K

During our preschool program for our students aged 4-5, we continue to learn about friendships, getting along with others, listening, and exploring. They will participate in a variety of more advanced activities.

By the time they are finished with Pre-K, they will be reading three-letter words, knowing some of their sight words, some of their word families, as well as reading small books. It is my goal to ensure that each of my students is prepared for their next milestone in life, that being Kindergarten!

Why Does My Child Even Need Preschool

As someone who has been in the early education industry for decades, I get asked all the time by friends and family…

“Do I really need to send my child to preschool?”

“Isn’t preschool basically the same thing as kindergarten?”

“Can’t I just play with my child a little more to get them ready for kindergarten?”

“Isn’t preschool just another way to say daycare anyway?”

And I get it.

As a parent, you are advised to DO that, DON’T DO that, AVOID this, TEACH that pretty much all day long. It can be a challenge to be able to sift through all the parenting advice to know WHAT is most important for your child. (And what can you ignore)

To answer these many questions as effectively as possible, I’ve come up with just 2 things that you need to know in order to pick if/when/how to choose a preschool option for your child.

The TWO biggest things that EVERY parent needs to know is that…

#1. Investing in a preschool program for your child will give them an advantage in kindergarten that can follow them into their professional careers.

#2. Not all preschool programs are created equal.

These two truths are critical to deciding the right time to enroll yoru child and choosing the right program that aligns with your goals for your child.

Every Parent Needs to Know #1. Preschool gives children an advantage in kindergarten that can follow them into their professional careers.

Multiple studies have shown that children who attend preschool compare to those who don’t…

🖍️ Have a wider vocabulary,

🖍️ Have a grasp of basic math skills,

🖍️ Are more ready to learn,

🖍️ Have stronger social skills,

🖍️ Are more emotionally prepared to be away from parents,


In fact, according to the Learning Policy Institute, “Studies of high-quality programs that have followed students into adulthood find up to $17 returned in social benefits for every dollar invested…”

The social skills, reading practice, and basic math that children learn at Little TIger Academy has been a GAME-CHANGER for families over the years.

We’ve heard countless stories of parents whose children have come home from our program and surprised the WHOLE FAMILY with their new found knowledge.

Here’s one from Lindsey who’s son was in our program:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I would highly recommend this school and I am so glad I found it for my little guy, I just wish I would have found it sooner…

[Little Tiger Academy] is very organized with small class sizes to ensure each child gets the attention they need… My 2 older boys attended different preschools and I am blown away with the level of excellence this cute little school provides in comparison to my other 2 boys…🤯

He comes home each day with something new that he's learned and continually surprises us with information we had no idea he knew.” 🤷‍♀️

This is the intention in everything that I do and instruct my staff to do. We want our students to be prepared for kindergarten. Both mentally as well as emotionally.

We give them the space to learn, play, experiment, create, fail, explore, and more while ALSO giving them the tools and knowledge to succeed in school.

Preschool has helped so many of our students throughout the years and that’s why we continue to deliver the standard of care that we do.

Every Parent Needs to Know #2. Not all preschool programs are created equal.

Each study that proves that preschool is foundational for improving outcomes in kindergarten, there is a HUGE caveat.

The preschool program MUST be high quality with a trained staff, careful designed curriculum, and strong family support.

As the Learning Policy Institute explains, “the program has a ‘well-trained teaching staff, follows a thoughtful curriculum, and facilitates meaningful family engagement’ for the child to see the most benefits from this program investment.”

That’s why at Little Tiger Academy, we follow, train, and implement my proprietary curriculum that has been tested and developed for more than 14 years. 💪

Our team have considered everything that should be required of a high-quality preschool setting and have outlined these below:

  • Highly experienced management team.

  • A fully qualified team who are trained to deliver an elite education

  • Safe, secure and clean facilities

  • Nutritious and delicious meals

  • Daily outdoor play

  • Small classroom sizes

  • Working in partnership with parents

  • Open from 6:00 AM to 6:30 PM

Every teacher is thoroughly trained and children are encouraged to participate in structured and free play EVERY. DAY.

Plus, we use this curriculum in every program that we offer including Summer Camp, Day Care, and (of course) our yearly preschool.

How to Pick a Preschool Program

There are tons of resources out there on how to find the right and best preschool for your kiddo. Here are a few tips that we encourage our parents to look for when they tour our facility:

  • Look for our teachers talking and playing with the children

  • Watch as our discipline interactions are focused on helping, not punishing.

  • Each classroom and hallway environment is fun and joyful. (Even at naptime)

  • Our children are active (very little sitting and listening quietly at desks).

  • Our staff and teachers are supported and are happy to be here.

If you are looking for the BEST preschool curriculum and environment in Utah, come visit us at Little Tiger Preschool. >>


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