Preschool and Pre-K: Everything You Need to Know

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What are Preschool and Pre-K Programs?

Bright Horizons Offers More than a Daycare

Preschool and pre-k lay the foundation for your child’s future. Childhood experts agree that these early educational programs prepare children for everything that comes next — kindergarten, elementary school, and beyond. Early education is full of discovery for every child — from learning how to interact with others, to finding out what interests them.

Search by Zip to find preschool and pre-k programs at a Bright Horizons near you!

Choosing a preschool or pre-k program for your child can be a tough decision. Asking other parents can help, but all children are different, so finding a program that works for your child depends on their unique needs. Preschool and pre-k programs develop their own curriculums based on expert research and years of experience — and understanding the fundamentals can help you decide what’s right for your child. 

Preschool and pre-k definition

The terms preschool and pre-k are often used interchangeably — they are both educational programs that prepare children for kindergarten. However, there is a significant difference between the two, and knowing what each term means will help you choose the right program for your child. Keep in mind that some employee child care programs offer robust early education, for children in both preschool and pre-k.

The difference between preschool and pre-k

While there are similarities between preschool and pre-k, there are also two major differences:

Age of children for preschool or pre-k program

One of the major differences between preschool and pre-k is the age of the children in each program. Depending on your state licensing regulations and enrollment needs, preschool is typically for children ages 2 – 4, while may be pre-k for children ages 4 and older.

Learning approach for preschool and pre-k schools

As children grow, their understanding of the world does, too. While both preschool and pre-k utilize a fun approach to learning, pre-k dives deeper and prepares children for the elementary school years ahead.

The differences between preschool and pre-k

Learning methods for preschool and pre-k

Both preschool and pre-k often follow an emergent curriculum and approach and use games, pretend play, and more to teach important concepts and help children develop.

Social and emotional learning

Preschool and pre-kindergarten programs can help set the foundation for social and emotional development in children before they begin kindergarten.

Why your child needs preschool programs and pre-k school

Preschool and pre-k can offer children valuable learning experiences — socialization, emotional connections, and early education. For working parents, employer on-site child care programs can provide preschool or pre-k. As employer-sponsored child care centers become more prevalent across the country, organizations might also subsidize tuition costs, making preschool and pre-k more affordable.


FAQ: What do kids learn in preschool and pre-k?

What is preschool?


Preschool is an early childhood education program offered by trained teachers for children ages 2.5 - 4. Preschool typically emphasizes the benefits of play for child development. 

What is pre-K?

Pre-k is short for pre-kindergarten, and helps prepare children for kindergarten. The program may also be referred to as Kindergarten Prep. While pre-k is similar to preschool, it offers a more in-depth approach to learning and school readiness. Children in pre-k programs are typically 4 - 5 years old. 

How can I find preschool pre-k programs near me?


Most Bright Horizons centers have preschool daycare for children up to 6 years old. Learn about tuition, openings or schedule a meeting to visit our:

Or, Search by Zip to find a Bright Horizons child care center in your local city.

What programs does Bright Horizons have for preschool and pre-k?


Our early education programs offer more than daycare. Our goal is not just to help children learn, but to cultivate the joy of learning at all ages. We are currently enrolling in our:

  • Preschool program: Our preschool classes are designed to prepare children for kindergarten and all the big steps ahead, supporting inquisitive young minds as they tackle new challenges, take chances, and experiment with new things.
  • Pre-Kindergarten: Our kindergarten preparation programs support children during a time of enormous and exciting growth, building the academic, social, and physical skills that will get them ready for school.
  • Summer camp: Through Summer Explorations at Bright Horizons®, your child will have the opportunity to enjoy everything summer has to offer.
  • Toddler care: Our toddler preschool programs provide a place to test out and learn new skills, make new friends, and celebrate the joy of wonder and discovery.
  • Infant care: Our newborn and baby daycare programs provide safe spaces, welcoming environments, and inspired caregivers that support all your baby’s developmental milestones

What do children learn in preschool and pre-k?

Early education in preschool and pre-k is centered around the essentials of learning through play. While the specific curriculum can differ, most preschool and pre-k programs will focus on how kids make friends, how children build identity, and how to get ready for kindergarten

Should every child attend preschool?

By law, preschool is not a requirement in any state in the U.S. In some states, kindergarten isn’t even required as long as you can self-school your child based on the same education guidelines that kindergarten, preschool, and pre-k programs follow. However, this can be difficult for working parents — especially those who are also first-time parents — so finding a preschool or pre-k program with an excellent reputation for early education can be beneficial for both you and your child.

Does Bright Horizons have a preschool daycare waiting list?

Depending on where you live, and schedule you need for care, you may see preschool daycare waitlists. You can select and register with up to three Bright Horizons child care locations, including the center in which you are most interested. By registering, you are confirming interest in all three centers. Once registered, we will add you to our waitlist and offer you a space as soon as one becomes available. Our goal is to accommodate families as soon as space allows, and so during the entire process, we will keep in touch with you regarding your status. While waiting for a space to become available at the first-choice location, many families enroll at their second or third choices temporarily until space becomes available at their first-choice centers. Enrolling at another location will not only solve your immediate child care needs, but will provide you priority access to your first preference.

Are there specific philosophies in daycare?

Different daycare programs have different ideas about how a child should grow. A parent should familiarize themselves with the early childhood learning philosophies a daycare uses before entrusting a child to that facility. Learn more about what makes the Bright Horizons curriculum different in its approach to support early learning and the support Bright Horizons provides to working parents and daycare teachers.

How can I compare preschool costs?


Preschool costs will depend upon on your child’s age when they begin a program as well as the center location where you'd like to attend. To get a customized tuition quote for Bright Horizons, we will set up a Zoom or in-person meeting with you to discuss your family’s needs and calculate what tuition would look like for you.


Child Care Checklist

Comparing different preschool options? Print out our checklist to make it easy to make comparisons and choose the best preschool for your family.

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Get Started Today

Find a center near you to get started with Bright Horizons

Or call us to start the conversation 877-624-4532

Bright Horizons offers more than a traditional daycare. It helps parents looking for education-based Boston daycare, NYC daycare, Chicago daycare, Washington, DC daycare, Los Angeles daycare, San Francisco daycare, Seattle daycare and local daycares in other cities. It also provides back-up daycare and elder care, employer-sponsored child care, employer tuition assistance, workforce education, and student loan repayment programs. Bright Horizons Global Headquarters is located in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.