About Three-Year-Old Kindergarten
Over the next decade, the Victorian Government is investing almost $5 billion to introduce funded kindergarten for three-year-olds. Children across the state will benefit from 2022. This will mean another year of learning, playing and making friends for all Victorian children.
Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will become available in stages. In 2020, three-year-olds in six government areas will be able to access up to 15 hours of funded kindergarten each week. These areas are:
- Northern Grampians
- South Gippsland
In 2021, families in the following 15 local government areas will also have access to up to 15 hours of funded kindergarten each week:
- Central Goldfields
- East Gippsland
- Southern Grampians
- West Wimmera.
These first roll-out areas have been chosen because they will have the capacity needed to offer kindergarten programs to local three-year-olds.
From 2022, three-year-olds across the rest of state will have access to five hours of a funded kindergarten program each week. The hours will progressively increase to 15 hours a week for 40 weeks of the year by 2029.
Children eligible for the Early Start Kindergarten program can still access 15 hours of free kindergarten each week throughout the roll-out period. Early Start Kindergarten is available for children who are either:
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- known to Child Protection or have been referred by Child Protection to Child FIRST
Children can attend a three-year-old program at either a long day care (childcare) centre or at a sessional (standalone) kindergarten. These are places that might also offer a four-year-old kindergarten program.
No matter where your child goes to kindergarten, teachers and trained educators will lead the program.
A long day care centre can offer a full day of education and care, including a kindergarten program. The teacher-led kindergarten program is integrated with additional hours of education and care. At a sessional service, a kindergarten program will only run on certain days and at specific times. These days and hours are set by the kindergarten service.
Deciding where to send your child might depend on which services are available in your community, and what works best for your family and child.
The benefits of attending Three-Year-Old Kindergarten
Research shows that play-based learning is a powerful way to support children’s development. And these benefits last into the school years and beyond.
The evidence also shows that two years are better than one when it comes to early learning.
A quality kindergarten program will have more of an impact for children who start at age three rather than four. The benefits are even greater for children who are in vulnerable circumstances.
Young children learn about the world through play. It gives children the opportunity to use their imagination and practise important skills. It also helps their social and emotional development, and wellbeing.
In a kindergarten program, children use play to build their language skills and learn about numbers and patterns. They also learn how to get along with others, share, listen, and manage their emotions. Teachers and educators help children become curious, creative and confident about learning.
Kindergarten programs are designed to meet the needs of their local families. All kindergarten programs work with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. This makes sure the programs are right for children's ages.
Free and low cost kindergarten
Most kindergarten program fees are partly paid by the Victorian Government directly to the kindergarten. This allows children to access up to 15 hours a week of funded kindergarten delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.
Families can access a sessional kindergarten service at low or no cost if the child:
- is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- is a triplet or quadruplet
- is covered by a Health Care Card
- holds an eligible concession card or refugee, humanitarian or asylum seeker visa, or their parent or guardian does.
Choosing a kindergarten service
You may wish to visit a centre to meet staff to help you decide which service will best suit your child.
Families and carers with children born between January and April can choose which year to start at Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. This means that some children might be two when they start Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.
There are a few things you need to know when making this decision:
- kindergartens are required to have a different ratio of staff to children, depending on their ages
- some services might not have the number of staff needed to accommodate two-year-olds. For these services, your child must have turned three before they can attend
- if your child turns three by 30 April and you'd like them to start kindergarten that year, you should still enrol your child. Services will hold your child's place until they're old enough to attend. The service will only charge fees for the weeks your child attends the kindergarten program, but may ask you for a holding deposit. This will then reduce your fees once your child starts attending.
Reviewed 13 November 2019