What is kindergarten education in Victoria?
Young children may be involved in a range of formal and informal experiences such as playgroup, family day care, occasional care and childcare. Kindergarten is often the first step into a more formal learning environment for your child.
In Victoria, kindergarten has traditionally been the year prior to school entry. Over recent years kindergarten has included one year of funded kindergarten (the year prior to school entry) and an unfunded year (often referred to as three-year-old kindergarten).
Kindergarten attendance is not compulsory and your child is eligible for a funded year of kindergarten if they are four by 30 April of that year. The Victorian government provides funding for all eligible children to access a kindergarten program in the year before school entry.
In August 2007 the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) was created and early childhood programs, including kindergartens were transferred from the Department of Human Services to the DEECD.
Most kindergartens in Victoria operate in purpose-built facilities and are managed by volunteer parent committees; by local government; cluster managers; independent schools or school councils; or they may operate as part of a long day care facility. Kindergartens may also operate other programs for young children such as extended care, activity groups and playgroups.
Kindergarten fees and charges
The State Government provides funding for a minimum of 10 hours of four-year-old kindergarten per week. In addition the Kindergarten fee subsidy provides eligible concession card holders and triplets and quadruplets with access to 10 hours per week of a kindergarten program at no cost. Programs that operate for longer than 10 hours can charge fees for the additional hours.
Attendance fees are set to cover the gap between government contribution and the cost of operating the centre. Fees will vary depending on hours of attendance, size of groups and additional costs such as excursions.
Fundraising activities may be held to increase the centre’s income and in turn allow for the purchase of additional equipment.
All centres will have a fees policy that explains the organisation and parents’ responsibilities for fees, fees collection and any refundable levies.
There is currently no funding available for three-year-old kindergarten and therefore fees will usually be higher.
For more information visit the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) www.education.vic.gov.au
The kindergarten program
Early childhood teachers develop an education program based on their knowledge and understanding of children’s development and learning styles. This program will be adapted through observations of individual children and group interests and abilities as a whole.
The centre’s program may be based on a specific philosophy or theory such s Steiner, Montessori or Reggio Emilia, or a combination of theories.
Why should I send my child to Kindergarten?
In your child’s first five years they develop and learn much faster than at any other age. It is therefore critical that programs involving young children are of high quality. Kindergarten provides them with an environment in which this development can be encouraged and stimulated. The best outcomes for children are achieved when kindergarten staff work in close partnership with parents.
By the age of six, children’s development in two specific areas: social competence and self esteem/self concept will have an enormous influence on their future.
To enhance children’s ability to succeed to their full potential at school, children need to have developed some social skills by the age of six. These skills include gaining confidence in a variety of situations; ability to communicate with adults and peers; ability to express ideas and concerns; and perseverance and willingness to try things even when unsure about the outcome.
At kindergarten, children will be encouraged to develop confidence, independence, self awareness and a feeling of self worth. They will become more aware of the world around them and have many opportunities to develop warm, caring relationships with other adults, as well as, friendships with other children.
Activities are based on play, and on interacting with the environment, with peers and adults. These are the most important ways in which children learn.
Kindergarten provides a safe and nurturing environment in which children may develop a strong sense of self.
What is long day care?
Long day care is a centre-based form of child care service. Long day care services provide quality all day or part-time care for children of working families and the general community. Private operators, local councils, community organisations, employers or non-profit organisations may run these services.
For more information visit
What is Family Day Care?
Family day care is a unique, home-based childcare service providing quality care for children in the homes of family day care carers, supported by a local specialist coordination and resource team.
Family day care provides learning and development in a safe, secure and stimulating home environment for babies and children up to 12 years of age.
For more information, visit www.familydaycare.org.au
Want to start a playgroup?
Playgroup Victoria has a 10 Steps to Starting a Playgroup, checklist. Visit playgroup.org.au for more details.