Posted 20 December 2012 - 01:32 PM
It differs quite a bit between the states, but I can see you are in NSW so will give the info most relevant to that state:
- Preschool is not compulsory
- There are a range of early childhood options for 0-5 year olds including long daycares (LDC) and preschools.
- In theory the difference between daycare and preschool include that daycare usually has longer hours (maybe 6:30am-6pm) whereas preschool is more like 9am-3pm. Preschools are usually just for children 3 years and older. In theory daycare is more aimed at parent who need childcare whilst they work whereas preschools are more about education for the child regardless of what the parents needs are- but having said that these days with the Early Years Learning Framework all services whether they are a daycare or a preschool follow a similar curriculum and almost all daycares would have a "preschool program".
- Approaches to learning would vary from preschool to preschool and daycare to daycare and you might find there are more differences between individual services in approaches to learning, discipline, routines etc rather than saying "all preschools do THIS" and "all daycares do THIS".
- Having said all that some preschools offer "extended hours" or "aftercare" which means they might come close to the same opening hours as a daycare. In some areas there is no separate "preschool", or they are too hard to get into, or parents prefer the individual features of the daycare, so you might have quite a few kids attending daycare as their only pre-FYOS experience, even if they have SAHP. Parents might call this school or preschool, even if it is technically a LDC. Likewise even though daycare might be open for longer hours, there is no requirement to use the full day so you might have some kids just attending from 9am-3pm still. Also some services that use "Preschool" in their name might actually technically be more like a LDC in what they provide (longer hours, bigger age range of children)
- Preschool and LDC are provided by a range of providers- Private companies (could be large chains), Smaller private operators (where the business owner might also be the centre director/teacher), Councils, Non-for-profit organisations (eg KU, SDN, Benevolent Society), Independent schools (eg some Montessori etc preschools are associated with a private school) and Public Schools (through the Dept Ed, located on school grounds)