Kindergarten (also called preschool) is a program for 3 and 4 year old children to access in the two years before they attend school, delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.
What is a kindergarten program?
A kindergarten program is an early childhood education program planned and delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher. Kindergarten programs are run in children’s centres, child care centres, community kindergartens and in some schools. All ECKA kindergartens/preschools offer a kindergarten program that complies with the state government and display a kindergarten certificate.
The kindergarten program should link in to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), which identifies five learning outcomes for all children from birth to eight years. Each learning outcome is targeted to develop the kind of knowledge and skills children need to be confident and happy through their life. The Learning Framework outcomes are that children will:
Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity – Children feel safe, secure and supported.
In order to form a strong sense of self, children need to build secure relationships first within the family and then with caring, attentive adults in other settings.
Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world – Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active civic participation.
Over time and with opportunity and support, the ways in which children connect and participate with others increase. Participating in their communities strengthens children’s sense of identity and wellbeing.
Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing – Children become strong in their social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
During early childhood, the foundations for social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing are laid.
Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners – Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity
Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators
Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.
Why should my child go to kindergarten?
Kindergarten is an important step for young children and is strongly recommended for all children.
Research shows that kindergarten improves children’s health and wellbeing, helps them to develop strong social skills and encourages a love of learning.
Children who go to a kindergarten program are more independent and confident and are more likely to make a smooth transition to primary school (Prep). Kindergarten programs provide a good foundation for children, on which they will build and develop through primary school and beyond.
What happens at kindergarten?
A high-quality kindergarten program will offer your child a range of learning experiences and activities that are both stimulating and fun. Your child’s learning and curiosity will be encouraged through experiences and activities, such as exploring the natural world, being exposed to new ideas and solving problems.
Your child will be able to:
- learn to work with others and make friends through group activities and cooperative play
- express their creativity, for example, through dance, movement and art
- build their communication skills by listening to and having conversations with the educators and other children
- develop the skills that they need for reading, writing and mathematics.
A broad experience
Attending a kindergarten program provides an opportunity for your child to learn about their world alongside other children. By attending a kindergarten program, your child will develop a range of life skills, including:
- working with others in a group by listening to, and respecting the ideas of others
- sharing and handling conflicts with other children
- building self-awareness and confidence through play-based exploration
- developing new relationships with adults
- making new friends
Kindergarten provides a safe and supportive place for your child to explore their capacity for learning through play. Children learn at different rates, in different ways and at different times.
When attending kindergarten, your child will have the opportunity to:
- develop independence by taking part in the routines of the program
- extend their vocabulary and communication skills
- develop and enhance their reading and writing skills
- begin to explore numeracy and science
- develop future learning and enquiry skills by exploring different ways of learning and problem solving
What will my child gain through attending 2 years of kindergarten?
Children learn more quickly in their first 5 years of life than any other time. Kindergarten provides children with an environment that encourages and supports their development. Kindergarten gives your child the opportunity to explore the world and gives them a solid foundation to learn the skills that are required for Primary School.
Kindergarten provides opportunities to:
· Develop communication and literacy skills
· Develop independence and responsibilities to gain confidence and a feeling of self-worth
· Learn social skills such as listening and respecting other people’s ideas
· Build self-awareness and respect for others
· Learn to be creative
· Experience maths, social studies and science
· Use technology
· Discover the joy of learning
· Make new friends
Children learn these skills through a play-based curriculum where they are able to make choices and share in decision making.
Children are provided with the opportunity to develop caring relationships with adults as well as friendships with other children. The best outcomes for children are achieved when kindergarten staff and parents work in close partnership.
Support for parents
Kindergarten gives families and carers the opportunity to get to know other families. Talk with kindergarten staff to get help with any concerns about your child and to celebrate your child’s achievements. Attending kindergarten can also assist families whose child may need extra help. Through links to other local early childhood services kindergarten staff can help families to access a range of early years support services.
Supporting the transition from kindergarten to school
Attending kindergarten will help your child develop the skills necessary to flourish at school. All children attending a kindergarten program in the year before school will receive a Transition Learning and Development Statement.
Transition to school is not a point-in-time event, but an experience that extends from before the end of the kindergarten program and into the Prep year.
Your child’s Transition Learning and Development Statement will help your child’s Prep teacher to get to know your child before they start the new school year and to plan curriculum to support your child’s learning and development when they start school.
All children can attend kindergarten
Kindergarten is for all children. If your child has a disability or learning difficulty, the educators will talk with you about how the program and environment can support your child.
If you need support to enroll your child in a kindergarten program or to find a program that suits your family contact your local council.
What does kindergarten cost?
In 2022, The Victorian State Government provides funding to services to contribute to the cost of running a funded kindergarten program, which helps keep fees for the first and second year of kindergarten as low as possible. Fee information for each Centre will be given to you on enrolment.
From 2023 the Victorian State Government is funding kindergarten programs for all eligible children for both the first and second years of kindergarten. Therefore kindergarten is free for those children.
For more information on the roll-out please visit the Victorian Education and Training website.
How many hours a week can my child go to kindergarten?
All children attending kindergarten the year before school entry are eligible to attend 15 hours per week.
Children attending the first year of kindergarten (previously called three-year-old kindergarten) are able to access between 5 and 15 hours per week. These hours are dependant on the size of the kindergarten and the number of children enrolled.
Do you need an interpreter
The Victorian Government provides a free interpreter service for families attending funded kindergarten programs. Ask your child’s kindergarten educator or phone ECKA for further information. P: 5339 5055.
How do I prepare my child for Kindergarten?
There are a range of things you can do to prepare your child for kindergarten:
• Talking to your child about what to expect.
• Reading to your child every day.
• Encouraging your child to be independent by giving them time by themselves.
• Packing a change of clothes for your child and labelling all belongings.
• Encouraging your child to dress themselves, so they can manage tasks like taking their jumper on and off.
• Having practice runs taking your child to the kindergarten before their first day.
• Coming up with a goodbye ritual. At first you may want to stay to make sure your child feels secure, but once they settle in, a short goodbye encourages independence.
• Keeping kindergarten staff informed of changes in your child’s life that might affect their experiences at kindergarten.
Does my child need to be immunised before commencing kindergarten?
Yes, the Victorian Government’s new No Jab, No Play law requires all Victorian children to have a record of immunisation to be enrolled in childcare and kindergarten, unless they have a medical reason.
For more information regarding immunisation, please follow the link; www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
How do I get the kindergarten fee subsidy?
ECKA will claim for the fee subsidy from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development on your behalf. The payment is made directly to ECKA, so that kindergarten is free for your child or provided at a greatly reduced cost. For more information contact ECKA on 5339 5055.