private preschool vs public preschool

Your child’s education journey is an exciting new chapter filled with endless possibilities for growth. Alongside those possibilities comes what may also seem like an endless array of decisions and debates — and the choice to go public or private is one of them.

While you know the benefits of preschool are undeniable, you may still be a little uncertain when it comes to the differences between a private preschool vs. public preschool. We’ve outlined the main differences between the two to help you make an informed decision on the great public vs. private preschool debate.

Private Preschool vs. Public Preschool

Whether the preschool is private, public, or somewhere in between, there are some key qualities that you should expect to see in any early childhood setting. The purpose of preschool is to provide children with an environment outside of the home that is safe, stimulating, and supportive. A preschool program promotes children’s developmental growth and sets them up for social, emotional, and academic success.

Private preschools are great for families who value smaller class sizes with highly-trained educators that offer a more flexible, individualized curriculum, whereas public preschools are great for families who could benefit from the financial support. Here are some of the primary differences between private preschool vs. public preschool to help you make the best choice for your family.

Factors to Consider

Most preschools have a shared objective: to support their children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. However, there are some key differences in the programming of a private preschool vs. a public preschool.

Class Size

One of the primary differences in private preschool vs. public preschool is the number of children in each class. While it varies state by state, private preschools typically are able to offer smaller class sizes. A smaller child-to-teacher ratio means that children may have more personalized one-on-one care, instruction, and support.

Enrollment Standards

The enrollment requirements of a public preschool vs. private preschool are another distinguishing factor. While public preschools are required to allow anyone in their district to enroll, private preschools are able to make judgment calls in their enrollment process. For example, a private preschool has the authority to accept or deny children if their enrollment is not in the best interest of the class or community of the entire school.

The age requirements of a private preschool vs. public preschool may vary slightly but typically follow a similar approach. Many preschools will have cut-off dates for children to be eligible to enroll based on their birth month. Public preschools will follow the cut-off birthday date of the kindergarten in their district to ensure consistency in their admittance. Many private preschools also use their district’s cut-off date, but they are not required to do so and often will have a bit of flexibility in their enrollment decisions.


A common thread in most early childhood programs is a curriculum that serves to strengthen social skills and build self-confidence. Age-appropriate activities support children’s cognitive development and prepare them for academic success.

However, one of the primary differences in a private preschool vs. public preschool curriculum is the ability to customize their curriculum. Public preschools typically must adhere to assessment procedures and academic regulations set by their district, whereas private preschools have more flexibility in their approach.

While curriculum criteria certainly is helpful, the need to fulfill state-mandated requirements with minimal flexibility can be limiting for teachers and children alike. Alternatively, the flexibility of a private preschool curriculum allows teachers to offer individualized, skills-based instruction that accommodates the unique learning styles and interests of each child.

Extracurricular Activities

The extracurricular activities in a private preschool vs. public preschool will vary depending on the school itself. Some public preschools may have more offerings due to their connection to the elementary school. However, many private institutions also offer after-school programs and extracurricular activities, depending on their size and structure.

If extracurricular activities are a priority for your family, check in with your preschool’s program director to learn about their current offerings — and if they may be open to suggestions for the future!


As always, your budget is something to keep in mind when considering your choices. The cost of a private preschool vs. a public preschool is another key difference between the two.

State-funded public preschools were created to ensure families of all income levels have access to early child education at low to no cost. Private preschools have tuition fees, which can be prohibitive for families with limited financial means. However, there are various financial assistance programs available to help families reach their childcare or educational needs. Many private preschools will also offer tuition assistance for families in need of financial support to ensure children of all economic backgrounds have access to quality early education.

Enroll Your Child in Preschool With Cadence Education

While it’s clear that there are some differences between a private preschool vs. public preschool, every school is unique in its own way — just like every child.

If a skills-based curriculum with more opportunities for individualized instruction feels like a good fit, then considering a private preschool may be your best bet. The preschool programs at Cadence Education are designed to foster children’s independence, creativity, curiosity, and confidence — all in a safe, engaging, and loving environment.

If you want to set your child up for success, find a Cadence Facility near you to learn more about the enrollment process for your soon-to-be preschooler. Prepare them for the future, then prepare yourself to watch them thrive.