What Will My Child Learn at Daycare?

Whether you’ve already enrolled your child in daycare and their first day is fast approaching or you’re contemplating starting at a child care center, the thought of being away from your little one can feel difficult. You may find yourself second-guessing your decision and wondering, “What will my child learn at daycare – is it worth it?”

And the answer is a resounding yes! Your child will benefit from the social environment, new experiences, and educational activities that will help them get ready for all the big steps ahead. Every daycare is different, but they will likely follow some sort of curriculum that is inclusive of all age groups and all areas of development.

Children playing in Early Learning Center

How Does Daycare Encourage Child Development?

Research shows that an early learning center can positively impact a child’s school readiness, cognitive growth, and social-emotional skills. Plus, at daycare, children have space, materials, and experiences that encourage developmental milestones and caregivers who will cheer them on along the way. 

What Will My Child Learn at Daycare?

Even though every daycare is different, there are some essential skills your child should learn, no matter which daycare center you choose. Take a look below to find out what they are – and, if you tour centers before you enroll, include these skills in your daycare visit questions to help you gauge what your child will learn at each specific center

Social-Emotional Skills

Social and emotional learning should be a priority -- during the early years of a child’s life, they’re laying the foundation for social-emotional development. Building relationships, identifying and understanding feelings, and learning about themselves are essential for your child’s future success. So, daycare should incorporate social and emotional skill-building activities, conversations, and experiences into each day. 

Learning Through Play

Children learn best when they learn through play – and one thing daycare centers excel in is incorporating purposeful play into the daily routine. Playing outside can help children learn to observe their surroundings, explore nature, discover new plants and animals, practice motor skills, and more. 
Additional hands-on, playful activities can include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). For example, making bubbles and playdough can double as a science activity; playing and building with blocks can promote engineering skills. 


A welcoming and inclusive daycare environment, caring teachers, support for relationship-building, and encouragement for your child to be themselves will help your child become more self-confident. 

An Academic Foundation

What does a daycare curriculum include? It should incorporate all areas – including reading, science, math, art, movement, outdoor experiences, social-emotional development, and more. When you’re wondering what to expect at a daycare when it comes to curriculum, remember that this is just a basic list -- many daycare centers go above and beyond. 


What are some benefits of daycare?

Daycare can help children build an academic foundation, social-emotional skills, problem-solving skills, and more. They’ll have the opportunity to interact with other children their age, learn how to build relationships, and learn about themselves.

What do two-year-olds learn at daycare?

 Two-year-olds learn to test out their newfound independence; build language, social, and self-help skills; experiment with cause and effect; investigate the outdoors; build relationships; and more.  

What should my one-year-old be learning at daycare?

Your one-year-old will learn a variety of things, including early reading skills, sign language to build language development and early communication, and motor skills. They’ll start building secure attachments, explore the outdoors, participate in art and music activities, and more.
mother holding child

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Bright Horizons is a United States–based child-care provider and is the largest provider of employer-sponsored child care. Employees looking to become a child care teacher are offered the opportunity to earn an early education degree for free as part of their corporate benefits. Search by zip to find a child care center near you. Bright Horizons Global Headquarters are in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.