What is difference between preschool, nursery and playgroup???? Help!

(25 Posts)
MissyBabee Fri 06-Oct-06 15:46:00

Hello, obviously i don't know much about all this but I am confused!!!
Is preschool the same as playgroup? do they go to playgroup, then preschool?? When I was a kid, I went to nursery but it seems nursery now means place where kids go when parents at work.
Is Tumbletots a playgroup? If so, my local one offers one 45 min session a week. Surely that's not enough. What do you all do with yours?

TheBlonde Fri 06-Oct-06 15:47:35

tumbletots is a play session - you have to stay and supervise your child

MissyBabee Fri 06-Oct-06 15:50:03

thanks theblonde.
i see... so it's not a playgroup. you can leave them at playgroup and come back later?

loopylou0612 Fri 06-Oct-06 15:56:41

A playgroup is, like TheBlonde says, a place where you stay and supervise your child (generally). Pre-schools tend to run in sessions ie 3 hours in the morning/afternoon. Pre-schools generally only take children from 2.6 years onwards.You don't stay for these sessions.

Nurseries are open all day, usually from early morning until early evening. The provide breakfast, lunch and tea as well as snacks and drinks throughout the day. They are way more expensive than playgroup/pre-school alternatives but provide full day care for children.

USAUKMum Fri 06-Oct-06 16:11:33

Confusingly you also have nurseries attached to primaries where the child goes for half a day. This is the year before they start Reception. So now I am a SAHM, my DS will go to pre-school next Easter (rising 3), then start nursery at his sister's school in Jan 08 (rising 4) then Reception the following year (rising 5).

As opposed to my DD who went to a nursery while I worked, then transfered to the school nursery when I became SAHM.

moljam Fri 06-Oct-06 16:12:47

i think it depends on where you live as well.

Mercy Fri 06-Oct-06 16:13:52

To me playgroup is for children aged 2/2.5 upwards and parents leave them there for either a morning or an afternoon. The children are looked after by the Playgroup Leader and assistants. A small fee is charged until the term following the child's 3rd birthday.

Day nursery is open all day, provides all meals and full care for anything from a few weeks old baby to school-age children.

Nursery school is for children aged 3 plus and is free. A fully qualified teacher and nursery nurse run the session (children attend either mornings or afternoons)

No idea what pre-school is.

moljam Fri 06-Oct-06 16:17:57

where i live preschool is same as nursery except take them from 2 and the nursery here takes them from 3.they are both ofsted inspected and educational.

throckenholt Fri 06-Oct-06 16:19:03

pre-school and playgroup are much the same thing I think - usually 2.5 hour sessions - maybe up to 5 sessions per week. Usually run by a voluntary committee and paid staff. Only run in term time.

Nursery are usually private (or council), and take children all day (if wanted). Probably do much the same thing when the kids are actually there.

So nursery is more childcare - mainly for working parents, whereas playgroup/pre-school is more about a social experience and getting to know a peer group that they are likely to go to school with.

throckenholt Fri 06-Oct-06 16:20:38

tumbletots and toddler groups - where the parents stay - are just fun social times.

mumfor1standfinaltime Fri 06-Oct-06 16:21:27

lol missybabee, I am having the same dilemma at the moment, ds will be 2 in January so I was thinking about putting his name down for school (?) and it all just goes way over my head.
Glad it's not just me!
Find the whole thing just so confusing. There seems to be no information on the subject! I phoned a few local schools and have put his name down for 'big school', one of the schools has a playschool and one had a preschool! er? lol!

MissyBabee Fri 06-Oct-06 16:33:17

sorry guys, started convo off then had to feed DD, feed the cats and now DD's crying! will catch up in a mo.

MissyBabee Fri 06-Oct-06 16:44:57

USAUKMum, what's an SAHM?

MissyBabee Fri 06-Oct-06 16:48:20

oh god, i hadn't thought about playschool, mumfor1standfinaltime! could they confuse us anymore???
seriously though, you've all been helpful, thanks.

emmalou78 Fri 06-Oct-06 19:34:20

just to confuse you further...

Pre-school is depending on where you live for children from 2 or 2.6 yrs up to school age. children access the same early years curiculum as they would in a school nursery class - but staffing ratios are higher. Funding for children starts the term following their 3rd birthday.

Playgroup is another term for a toddler group - it is an opportunity for you and yor child to meet other parenets and children in relaxed social environment

Nursery is either: A private daycare centre for children from x many weeks onwards,


A class in school for children aged 3 and over normally mornings or afternoons and a pre-cursor to reception year.

USAUKMum Fri 06-Oct-06 19:47:12

SAHM -- Stay at Home Mum

ingym23 Mon 09-Oct-06 17:27:20

I am confused about the whole playgroup / preschool / nursery school thing too.

My DS is currently 2.5, turning three in May next year. If I wanted him to go to a nursery school (say one attached to a local primary school), would he start when he actually turns three, or do all the kids start together (say in September)?

Do kids generally have to be potty trained before attending preschool / playgroups / nursery schools? Is is harder to get into a decent primary school if the child hasn't attended nursery school?


USAUKMum Mon 09-Oct-06 17:44:37

(sorry long)

I think the playschool/playgroups are different place to place. The one my DS is signed up to go they start in term that they turn three. So he is 3 in July, and will start after Easter (summer term). I've signed him up to the one that alot of children from my DD's school go to in hopes he will meet some children from his class.

But some playgroups in my town take them younger from 2.5. The nursery attached to my DD school takes them the when they turn 4 (but again in the next village one takes them from 3 !!). In this part of Hertfordshire there are 2 intakes -- two times a year new children start. If born from 1 Sept - 28/29 Feb they start in Sept, if born 1 March - 31 Aug they start in July. So my son will start nursery the Jan 2008 before he is 4. He starts reception the following Jan (2009). Here, the entry into nursery and Reception are seperate. I.e. just because you got into the nursery, does not guarentee a place in the Reception.

So my son's education until 2009 is:
Playgroup: Easter 2007 - Dec 2007
Nursery: Jan 2008 - Dec 2008
Reception: Jan 2009

Our local primary is oversubscribed -- but thankfully they have a Sibling rule, so will get in under that !

The only thing I can recomend is for you to get the prospectus / admissions guidelines from the Primarys you like. Ask the Primary about nurseries if it doesn't have one, as some tend to be "feeders". Also ask at the various playgroups/ pre-schools what Primaries most of the children go to. A lot of work, but I don't know of an easier way!! Unless you know a mum who has already gone through it near where you live.

MumRum Mon 09-Oct-06 17:45:01

I agree with what emmalou78 said except...
playgroup and preschool are the same thing (in berkshire anyway) and toddlers is where you stay with your kids and other parents...

oooggs Mon 09-Oct-06 17:49:05

DS goes to a nursery who take children from 6mths - 5yrs, but he is now in the pre-school class, which does the same as the 'pre-school' round the corner.

portonovo Tue 10-Oct-06 11:30:21

Legally, pre-school and playgroup and nursery are the same thing, each place just chooses whether they are registered for sessional or day care. In fact where I live several playgroups have renamed themselves nurseries because it sounds posher and more like private ones!

But they all follow exactly the same curriculum and are subject to the same Ofsted and Social Services inspections. (Same as reception classes in schools in fact)

The real difference is that private nurseries and the government ones like Surestart usually open around 8-6 and often do holiday periods too, whereas non-profit-making pre-schools, playgroups and nurseries only operate for 39 weeks a year. Private nurseries charge much more too.

The ones with longer hours are often targeted at working parents. The non-profit ones offer 'sessional care', with sessions lasting about 2 1/2 hours, although at many you can opt to pay a little extra for a lunchtime session of 45 mins or so to bridge the morning and afternoon sessions, thus giving you the equivalent of a full school day.

At a non-profit one, your child will be totally funded by the government from the start of the term following their 3rd birthday - at a private nursery you would have to 'top-up' to meet the fees. Before they get government funding, non-profit ones usually charge modest fees - ours is £6 a session, compared to about double that at a private nursery.

There is some overlap - for example, a private nursery near me only opens 9-3, so similar to many playgroups, and children all have to take packed lunches. Other nurseries provide cooked lunches and are open longer hours.

Nursery schools are different again. They are a pre-school unit attached to a primary school. Admissions vary, but they will generally accept children from about 3 or 3 1/2. Often at schools with nursery units, the age at which children start 'school proper' is later - where I lived in Berkshire, my child went to a school nursery from 3 1/2 and would have started school in the term before she was 5. However, in the county where I live now, there are almost no school nurseries, and children stay at playgroup/nursery before starting school in the Sept following their 4th birthday - only one intake.

Groups where parents stay with their children and play for a couple of hours are called toddler groups (used to be Mums & Tots but many Dads now too!)


MissyBabee Thu 12-Oct-06 21:39:55

why can't the whole of britain have the same system??? would help loads!

i have just enquired at a local pre-school (they call kindegarten...) and they take at 2.5 yrs or at 3.5 yrs. I can't help but think 2.5 yrs is a bit young. DD's got years of schooling ahead of her. I don't want her to leave me so early

Peridot30 Thu 12-Oct-06 22:03:47

Playgroup is a group whereyou can leave your child for a morning or afternoon session.
Nursery is for kids 3 and over and is free. pre school is the year at nursery before they start school. well it is in Scotland. Hope this helps

portonovo Fri 13-Oct-06 10:25:31

I think really it's just a case of semantics, some areas seem to have different terminology, but really there's no legal difference.

There's often a perception that 'nursery' or 'pre-school' is better for children than 'playgroup' or 'teaches' them more, but really they all follow exactly the same curriculum.

Like I said before, some playgroups are even renaming themselves to sound better, but they continue exactly the same so it really is just a name thing.

It would certainly be less confusing if the same terminology was used everywhere.

CHOCOLATEPEANUT Fri 20-Oct-06 23:55:54

My dd is 3 in a fortnight.She goes to a private nursery 3 days a week while I work.She has dine since 6 months old. She has just moved into pre school class there.

She will also start 'school' next Sept.The Primary school we have chosen has full time nursery places from 3. She has just missed out on going this term as shes not 3 till Nov. They mix the nursery class with the reception class.

The school also runs two morning pre school sessions for the 2-3 year olds that will go in Nursery next Sept. We go to one of these sessions and dd loves it and feels very grown up as she knows its school.The teacher said that when she starts full time next sept she will prob have more in common with the reception children as shes very mature so I am glad they mix the classes.

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