Preschool Vs Kindergarten: Differences & Everything You Need To Know

Preschool vs Kindergarten, many people often misunderstand the two words Preschool and Kindergarten. This is because these two terms are widely used in different countries and portray different meanings depending on the location.

Preschool is understood by most people to be the stage of education where kids are taught before attending accredited schools. A large percent of people who use the word “Kindergarten” are not aware of the meaning and origin of the word.


This article will explain extensively the differences between Preschool and Kindergarten while also stating the origin of the two terms.

What is Preschool?


Preschool is a term used for establishments that educate young children. The education offered to the children is not the type that is given to pupils in accredited schools. Childhood education helps preschool students to build on basic skills like speaking, very basic mathematics, social interactions, game skills, and effective communication.


Preschool kids are usually put through creativity development like painting, construction (using scraps like carton), play school, and others. Preschool does not focus on formal education and is usually for children between ages of two plus/three and five.


Preschool education is not compulsory and is usually used mostly by parents who have to be somewhere during work hours. Note that the explanation above applies to only some countries. For example, in the UK, the word “Kindergarten” is hardly used while in some other countries.

What is Kindergarten?


Kindergarten is a German-derived word that is used for the stage of education that is compulsory in most countries. The word “kindergarten” means a “garden for children” and was introduced by Friedrich Froebel who believed that playing is an important stage in children life.


The system was introduced in 1837 and has since been an important part of children education. Friedrich Froebel’s model Kindergarten was a concept of 90% creative play. However, schools have modernized the Kindergarten system, making it a mix of basic school work and play.


Kindergarten is for kids that are between ages four and five. Usually, Kindergarten is for kids who are five years old. The word Kindergarten itself means a place where children have the freedom to grow.


Kindergarten activities range from creativity building to exploration and basic formal education. Kindergarten uses the most interesting methods to impart knowledge of formal education on the five year olds. Some of these methods are television songs, games, and generally play. 


Kindergarten is also a tool for schools to build the self-esteem of children, helping them take a peek at what formal education will look like. The most important point of the Kindergarten system is that it uses play to introduce formal education to children.

Important Points to Note; Preschool Vs Kindergarten


All the explanation points made above may still look very similar. The points below will summarize the difference between preschool and kindergarten.


  • Kindergarten students are better behaved and trained to be more sensible.

  • Preschool is more of play and no formal education work at all. Kindergarten students are exposed to basic formal work using interesting methods.

  • Preschool is not compulsory, compared to Kindergarten. In most countries, Kindergarten is the first stage of formal education every child must attend.

  • Preschool kids are not required to meet any standards before they are allowed in. Some countries have requirements that children have to meet before admission.

  • Preschool institutions are not accredited and are sometimes referred to as daycare agencies. Kindergarten is sometimes part of a large accredited school while the stand-alone ones are accredited by the government.


Preschool Vs Kindergarten


Below are the most distinguished differences between preschool and kindergarten all over the world. The table used is to make it more understandable:




Not compulsory

Compulsory in most countries

Not necessarily accredited

Must be accredited as a stand-alone or a part of an accredited institution or school

Mostly for kids between the ages of three and five

For five year old kids

Not used in the United Kingdom

Compulsory in the United States and Canada

Focuses on helping children develop social skills

Helps children prepare for primary education through play

Is the foundation of child learning

Builds on preschool knowledge (For pupils that attended preschool)

Is replaced by Nursery school in the United Kingdom

Provides informal education in the United States

Informal education

First stage of compulsory education


Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


Preschool vs Kindergarten-

Preschool and kindergarten are common terms for parents but it’s a little difficult to understand the difference.


This article explains what the difference between preschool and kindergarten is. However, it is natural to have a few more questions. 


This FAQs section answers some of the questions you may have about preschool and kindergarten.


What age is preschool and kindergarten?


Preschool is for children between the ages of three and five while kindergarten is for five year old children.


What comes first kindergarten or preschool?


Preschool comes before kindergarten. Note that attending preschool is not a prerequisite to starting kindergarten.


What comes before preschool?


Preschool is for children who are too young to attend elementary or basic school. This means that there is no reason for kids to attend any school before preschool.



Many parents who want to have their children attend preschool simply either want the kids to enjoy the experience or do so because they are too busy to help the child grasp the basics of social interaction.


The major difference between preschool and kindergarten is that preschool imparts informal education, while kindergarten offers formal education and is compulsory in most countries, unlike preschool.