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Benefits of kinder (kindergarten) - English

Free kinder in 2023

From 2023, Three- and Four-Year-Old kinder programs will be available for free at participating services. This includes in long day care and standalone kindergarten services.

Making kinder free helps all Victorian children access two years of a high-quality kinder program before they start school.

Before starting school, it is recommended children go to a:

  • Three-Year-Old Kinder program for between 5 and 15 hours per week, followed by
  • Four-Year-Old Kinder program for 15 hours per week (600 hours a year).

Free Kinder means a saving of up to $2,500 per child, each year in sessional kindergarten and $2,000 in long day care (which also attracts Commonwealth Childcare Subsidy (CCS) payments).

Kindergarten services offering Free Kinder will receive funding directly from the Victorian Government. This means families won’t have to claim the savings back. Families using long day care kinder programs will be able to see the savings from Free Kinder each billing cycle with ‘Victorian Government Free Kinder offset’ clearly labelled on invoices.

About Three-Year-Old Kindergarten (kinder)

Kindergarten, also referred to as ‘kinder’ or ‘early childhood education’, is an important part of your child’s development and learning. Enrolling your child in a kinder program for two years can help develop their skills so they do well in life and school. In Victoria, you can start children in a kinder program when they are three years old. You can enter your child’s birthdate in the Starting Age CalculatorExternal Link to find out what year they can start Three- and Four-Year-Old Kinder.

Proven results:

Children who go to a kinder program start to develop skills such as how to count and recognise numbers and letters, and how to solve problems. Your child will build their confidence and independence at kinder and learn social and emotional skills. They will make new friends.

Research shows that at 16 years old, students who had attended two or three years of a kinder program before starting school had higher scores in English and maths than those who did not.

How parents and kinder educators work together:

Kinder works best as a partnership between parents, families and teachers. As a parent, you are the most important part of your child’s development. You teach them right from wrong, your language, culture and values such as kindness and respect. Teachers will talk to you about what is happening at kinder and ways to help your child to keep learning at home. They want to know about your child’s interests and how they like to learn.

You can ask your kinder teacher to organise an interpreter at any time. This could be on-site or by telephone or video. There is no cost involved.

What happens at kinder:

Teachers encourage children to learn by playing. Activities may include drawing, singing, climbing, digging and running outdoors, playing with toys and reading books. Play encourages children to use their imagination and make discoveries, while cooperating with others by sharing and taking turns. Children will learn about sounds, words and language, including how to speak and understand English.

Kinders are part of our multicultural community:

Kinder programs welcome parents from all backgrounds to be part of their communities. They are a place where parents can meet and share stories and learn from each other.

Teachers want to know about your child and your culture. This helps them prepare programs that are meaningful for your child, including activities based on cultural days and events and celebrate the diversity in Victoria.

Teachers include everyone in activities, so children who do not speak English have the same opportunities to play and learn as others. Some kinder programs have bilingual educators who help children who speak little or no English. Children are also taught to get along with and be accepting of others and to respect cultural differences.

What is the difference between a kinder program in a long day care (childcare) centre and a standalone (sessional) kindergarten service?

Children can attend a Three-Year-Old Kinder program at either a long day care (childcare) centre or at a standalone (sessional) kindergarten service. These services usually also offer a Four-Year-Old Kinder program.

A long day care centre can offer a full day of education and care, including a kinder program. The teacher-led kinder program can be integrated with additional hours of education and care. At a standalone service, a kindergarten program will only operate on certain days and at specific times. These days and hours are set by the kindergarten service.

Early Start Kindergarten

In 2023, Three-Year-Old Kinder programs are for between 5 and 15 hours each week and Four-Year-Old Kinder programs are for 15 hours. If you are from a refugee or asylum seeker background, a program called Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) is also available. ESK is also available to children who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or who have had contact with child protection services.

ESK can help ensure you get the maximum amount of free kinder program hours possible each week for your child. Children eligible for ESK are entitled to 15 hours of free kinder each week, no matter how many hours are offered in the Three-Year-Old Kinder program.

For further information about ESK speak to your local kindergarten service, or visit: Link

Enrol your child:

To find services offering approved kinder programs, visit the find a kinder program website (Find A Kinder Program – Department of Education and Training, Victoria ( Link )

Talk to your local kindergarten service about their enrolment process. If you need help, you can also contact your local council or call the Three-Year-Old Kindergarten Enquiry Line on 1800 338 663 or email For in-language support or to get an interpreter, call 131 450 first.

Look for the Kinder Tick:

The Kinder TickExternal Link helps Victorian families find an approved kinder program for their children.

Look for the Kinder Tick logo at your local kindergarten service, on the service or centre’s building or grounds, on their website or in their information materials.

Reviewed 11 January 2023

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