Difference Between Preschool and Kindergarten

Main Difference – Preschool vs Kindergarten

Preschool and kindergarten  are educational establishments that offer preschool education (formal and informal) to children, before starting compulsory education at primary schools. The meaning and usage of these two terms, however, vary according to different countries. In the UK, the terms kindergarten and playschool are rarely used whereas in the US, preschool and kindergarten actually refer to two different institutions. In the US, preschool provides informal education before starting school whereas kindergarten is the first stage of compulsory education offered at the age of five.  This is the main difference between preschool and kindergarten. Difference Between Preschool and Kindergarten- infographic

What is a Preschool

Preschool is an educational establishment that offers early childhood education to children between the ages of three and five, before compulsory primary education. Preschools aim to develop different skills in children such as personal, social and emotional development, communication skills which mainly includes speaking and listening, creative and aesthetic development skills and mathematical awareness.

Preschool education includes various programs and institutes such as tots and toddler programs, play schools, nursery schools and kindergartens. All these programs focus on both formal and informal education. At the same time, it is important to know that attending a preschool is not compulsory.

It is also important to observe that the meaning and usage of the two terms preschool and kindergarten vary according to different countries. For example, the terms nursery school and play group are frequently used in the UK instead of preschool.

Difference Between Preschool and Kindergarten

What is a Kindergarten

The term kindergarten is derived from German, and it literally means ‘garden for the children.’ This term metaphorically refers to a place where children can grow naturally. Kindergarten is a preschool education program which is based on fun and practical activities to develop skills. This is very similar to kindergarten.

However, in the US, Canada, and some states of Australia, the term kindergarten is used to refer to the first stage of compulsory education offered at the age of five. In other countries, it often refers to an institute which is very similar to a play group.

Main Difference - Preschool vs Kindergarten

Difference Between Preschool and Kindergarten

  • Preschool and kindergarten are educational establishments that offer preschool education to children.
  • In some countries, kindergarten and preschool may refer to the same.
  • In the UK, the term kindergarten is rarely used.
  • In the US, and Canada, kindergarten is the first stage of compulsory education offered at the age of five.

Image Courtesy:

“kindergarten, in session” by Woodley wonderworks  via

“child in kindergarten” by Lucélia Ribeiro  via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.


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