So what is it to be? Nursery, pre-school or playgroup? Or a few more years at home before the time comes to gently shove your little one into the big, grown-up world of compulsory education?
When it comes to children, there's no point in trying to generalise. They are as different as... well, as we are.
So to try and slot them into a one size fits all system is never going to work.
You need to work out what is right for your child and that way, with their help and a bit of luck, you can introduce them to all sorts of fun, stimulation and social skills that will set them up for their schooldays to come.
Nurseries are generally privately run and cater for children from shortly after birth to almost school age.
Pre-schools or playgroups have traditionally functioned as a preparation for school, and thus for older children (two or three year olds and upwards).
Pre-school education used to be provided in 'playgroups' but in a move to try to encourage these schemes to take themselves and their educational role more seriously, the name pre-school is now preferred over 'playgroup' by regulatory bodies (such as Ofsted and the local education authority).
That said, the names are becoming increasingly unspecific. Many schools run an associated 'nursery' which is targetted exclusively at children over three years intended to attend that same school. 'Playgroup' is increasingly used to describe parent and toddler groups (which are mostly intended for children of three years and under).
If you are trying to decide on a pre-school or child-care place, the best thing to do is to ignore the labels and simply approach each provider on an individual basis asking them what they think they do and what they can do for you and your child.
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