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Daycare vs. Nursery — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on March 27, 2024
Daycare offers child care and educational activities for various ages, focusing on longer hours, while nursery specifically caters to preschool-aged children with a focus on early education.
Daycare vs. Nursery — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Daycare and Nursery


Key Differences

Daycare centers provide care for children from infancy through preschool ages, offering a safe environment while parents are at work. On the other hand, nurseries often focus on children from about three to five years old, emphasizing preparation for formal schooling.
While daycares may operate for extended hours to accommodate working parents' schedules, nurseries typically follow a more traditional school-like schedule, opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon. This schedule aligns closely with the academic year.
Daycare programs might incorporate educational activities, but their primary focus is on providing care throughout the day. Conversely, nurseries are designed with a structured curriculum aimed at early childhood education, preparing children for kindergarten.
In terms of environment, daycares often have facilities that cater to both rest and active play, reflecting their longer hours and diverse age group. Nurseries, however, are usually more classroom-oriented, with areas designated for specific learning activities.
Daycares are flexible with enrollment, accepting children at various times of the year. Nurseries, while they may offer some flexibility, typically have set enrollment periods in alignment with academic cycles.

Comparison Chart

Age Range

Infancy to preschool
Approximately 3 to 5 years old

Primary Focus

Providing care and supervision
Early childhood education

Hours of Operation

Extended hours to accommodate working parents
Similar to school hours, primarily daytime


Varied, with a focus on play and care
Structured, aiming to prepare for formal schooling

Enrollment Flexibility

High, with year-round enrollment possible
Moderate, often aligned with the academic year

Compare with Definitions


A facility providing care and supervision for children while parents are at work.
The daycare center near my office has a great outdoor play area.


A preparatory step for children before they enter kindergarten.
Attending nursery has helped him adjust to a structured routine.


A service that operates beyond traditional school hours.
Finding a daycare with flexible hours was essential for our family.


Facilities often aligned with academic schedules.
The nursery operates from September to June, following the school year.


A place where children from different age groups can interact.
She enjoys the diverse age range at her daycare.


An environment designed to stimulate learning and development.
Our nursery is equipped with various educational toys and resources.


An establishment that offers various activities to support children's development.
Our daycare incorporates music and art into daily activities.


An educational setting for preschool-aged children focusing on early learning.
The nursery school curriculum includes basic literacy and numeracy.


A child care option that emphasizes safety and nurturing.
The primary concern when choosing a daycare was the staff's qualifications.


A place where emphasis is on social and educational activities.
Her nursery encourages cooperative play and sharing.


Provision of daytime training, supervision, recreation, and often medical services for children of preschool age, for the disabled, or for the elderly.


A room or area in a household set apart for the use of children.


The place where these services are provided
Picked up the kids from daycare after work.


A place for the temporary care of children in the absence of their parents.


Daytime supervision, usually of children.


A nursery school.


Childcare during the day while parents work


A place where plants are grown for sale, transplanting, or experimentation.


A place in which something is produced, fostered, or developed.


(countable) A place where breastfeeding]] or the raising of children is carried on.


(by extension) Especially in European countries: a room or area in a household set apart for the care of children.


A place where the pre-school children of working parents are supervised during the day; a crèche, a daycare centre.


A play]] at the same time.


(Philippines) The first year of pre-school.


A place where anything is fostered and growth promoted.


A place where animals breed, or where young animals are naturally or artificially reared (for example, on a farm).


(horticulture) A place where young shrubs, trees, vines, etc., are cultivated for transplanting, or (more generally) made available for public sale, a garden centre; also (obsolete) a plantation of young trees.


(sports) A club or team for developing the skills of young players.


(countable) Something which educates and nurtures.
Commerce is the nursery of seamen.


Someone or something that is nursed; a nursling.


The act of nursing or rearing.


The act of nursing.


The place where nursing is carried on
Christian families are the nurseries of the church on earth, as she is the nursery of the church in heaven.


That which forms and educates; as, commerce is the nursery of seamen.


That which is nursed.


A child's room for a baby


A building with glass walls and roof; for the cultivation and exhibition of plants under controlled conditions

Common Curiosities

Do nurseries operate during summer?

Many nurseries follow the academic year and may close or offer limited sessions during summer.

What is the main difference between daycare and nursery?

Daycare provides care for a broader age range and focuses on supervision, while nursery is educationally focused for preschool-aged children.

Are daycares open on weekends?

Some daycares might offer weekend services, but this varies by facility.

Can my child learn to read in nursery?

Nurseries often introduce foundational literacy skills, preparing children for reading.

Is daycare more expensive than nursery?

Costs vary widely depending on location, hours, and services provided, making it difficult to compare directly.

How do I choose between daycare and nursery for my child?

Consider your child's age, your schedule, and whether the emphasis on care or education aligns with your family's needs.

How do daycares handle emergencies?

Daycares are required to have emergency plans and procedures in place, often including staff trained in first aid.

Can toddlers attend nursery?

Nurseries typically cater to children around three to five years old, preparing them for kindergarten.

What activities are common in daycare?

Activities can include playtime, arts and crafts, and basic educational lessons.

Are there standardized curriculums for nurseries?

While there's no single standard, many follow guidelines aimed at early childhood education.

Do daycares have a nap time?

Yes, most daycares incorporate nap times into their daily schedule.

Can my child with allergies attend nursery?

Yes, but it's important to discuss your child's needs with the nursery to ensure they can accommodate them safely.

What is the teacher-to-child ratio in nurseries?

Ratios vary, but nurseries aim to maintain a low teacher-to-child ratio to ensure individual attention.

What security measures are in place at daycares and nurseries?

Both typically have secure entry systems, staff background checks, and safety protocols to protect children.

Do nurseries provide meals?

Policies on meals can vary; some may provide meals and snacks, while others may require parents to provide them.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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