As a result of these reforms, Victorian children will have access to 2 years of quality play-based learning programs designed and led by teachers and educators, guided by the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. In 2019, most Victorian children had access to 600 hours of funded kindergarten in the year before school. In 2032, all Victorian children will have access to 1,800 hours of funded kindergarten before school, comprising 600 hours of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten and 1,200 hours of Pre-Prep.
Starting a quality kindergarten program at an earlier age leads to positive effects on child development. Kindergarten is a safe place for children to build skills, independence and concentration while forming positive relationships and making friends.
Providing a longer program in the year before school gives more time for children of all backgrounds and abilities to deepen their learning and development, and for services to deepen their relationships with families. Along with the introduction of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, Pre-Prep also provides a greater opportunity for different types of early years services to work together to address the needs of all children.
A 2-year early learning program, including more hours in the year before school, is supported by evidence from Australia and around the world:
- The early years are critical for establishing self- esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn - what a child experiences between the ages of 3 and 5 can make a big difference to their future.1
- Children who need extra support benefit the most from spending more time at kindergarten as it provides more time to participate in rich learning experiences that contribute to positive developmental trajectories.2
- Children who attend kindergarten for two years have better development in language, pre-reading, early number concepts, independence, concentration, and social skills when starting school.3
- 15 year-olds who attend a quality play-based early learning program in the year before school tend to perform better than those who do not in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).4
- A 30-hour per week program of play-based, teacher- led early learning increases children’s early literacy and numeracy, as well as self-regulation skills.5
- Low or no cost 30-hour per week play-based early learning programs lead to positive outcomes in self-regulation, social-emotional skills, literacy and numeracy and are linked to smaller gaps in learning and development due to socio-economic background.6