How Does Kindergarten Work in Victoria?

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Kindergarten refers to different educational institutions and learning spaces across Australia and the world. Sometimes, it is an official part of schooling, while other times, it serves as an early introduction to the structured learning environment for young children.

So, what is kindergarten?

Originally developed as a preschool educational approach in 18th century Germany, kindergarten was intended to provide care and early education for children whose parents worked outside the home. This concept has evolved considerably since then, adapting to our growing understanding of child development.

While other Australian states include kindergarten in their primary year, Victoria is different in that kindergarten is a separate, optional preschool for younger children.


What is kindergarten in Victoria?

Kindergarten in Victoria is an integral part of the early childhood education system, serving as a foundational stage for children aged between three to five years old. Kindergarten programs are specifically designed to provide young learners with a nurturing and stimulating environment that fosters their social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. In other states, like New South Wales, it is referred to as preschool.

Key aspects of kindergarten in Victoria include:

  • Play-Based Learning: Kindergarten programs in Victoria emphasise play-based learning, recognising the importance of hands-on experiences and exploration in children’s development. Through play, children develop essential skills like problem-solving, creativity and collaboration.
  • Inclusive Education: Victoria’s kindergarten system is committed to providing inclusive education, catering to the diverse needs of all children, including those with separation anxiety, disabilities or special needs. Learning programs work to create an inclusive environment where every child feels valued and supported.
  • Transition to School: Kindergarten programs in Victoria play a crucial role in preparing children for the transition to formal schooling. They focus on developing school readiness skills such as literacy, numeracy and social skills, ensuring that children are well-prepared for the next stage of their education.


What age is kindergarten in Victoria?

In Victoria, children can start attending kindergarten in the year they turn three, for 3-year-old kindergarten, and four, for 4-year-old kindergarten. Attendance at these programs is not compulsory, but it is highly encouraged to support children’s early development.


Typical day in kindergarten

A typical day in kindergarten involves a mix of free play, structured activities, group sessions and individual learning opportunities. Children engage in indoor and outdoor play, arts and crafts, storytime, music and movement activities. Nutritious meals and snacks are provided throughout the day, and rest periods ensure

At some kindergarten centres, a combination of excursions and incursions are organised to help connect children with their local community. At Aurrum Kids, for example, we offer a range of incursions and excursions including:

  • Local heroes visits
  • Yoga classes
  • Bush Kinder
  • Local library visits
  • Community garden visits
  • Cooking classes
  • Language classes

We also have partnerships with local schools to support a smooth transition into formal schooling for children. As well as orientations, our school readiness program includes organised activities such as school excursions and participating in school events ( fetes and sports events).

Kindergarten curriculum

The kindergarten curriculum in Victoria, Australia, is guided by the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), which outlines the principles, practices and outcomes that underpin high-quality early childhood education. The curriculum is designed to promote children’s holistic development across various domains, including social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical development. 

The VEYLDF is built upon a set of guiding principles that reflect contemporary understandings of best practices in early childhood education. These principles include:

  • Respectful Relationships and Responsive Engagement
  • High Expectations and Equity
  • Child-Centred Learning
  • Cultural Competence
  • Reflective Practice

In practice, the kindergarten curriculum under the VEYLDF is dynamic and flexible, allowing educators to tailor educational experiences to the needs and interests of the children in their care. Activities and learning experiences are designed to be engaging and interactive, ranging from storytelling and creative arts to exploration of the natural environment and structured problem-solving tasks.

Kindergarten funding for parents

The Victorian Government provides funding for kindergarten programs to ensure they are accessible and affordable for all families. This includes subsidies for 4-year-old kindergarten and additional support for 3-year-old kindergarten, aiming to reduce the cost for parents and guardians. 

The Free Kinder funding in Victoria offers an annual fee offset of up to $2,050 for families with children in integrated programs at long day care centres, specifically supporting 15 hours of kindergarten per week. 

Providers must deduct the Free Kinder payment from parents’ fees for the kindergarten program, applying this fee offset regularly and clearly on invoices. This funding does not affect a family’s entitlement to the Commonwealth Childcare Subsidy (CCS) and is applied after the CCS has been deducted​.

Other forms of kindergarten funding include:

  • Kindergarten Fee Subsidy: Families holding a Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card, Triple P (Parenting Payment Partnered), DVA Gold Card or Refugee Visa, among others, are eligible for additional fee subsidies.
  • Early Start Kindergarten: This grant is available for three-year-old children who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or families who have had contact with child protection services. Eligible children can access up to 15 hours of free or low-cost kindergarten each week, two years before starting school.
  • Three-Year-Old Kindergarten Funding: As part of a phased rollout, the Victorian Government is extending funding to include 3-year-old kindergarten, aiming to provide 5 hours per week initially, with plans to increase this to 15 hours by 2029. 


Find out more about funded kindergarten in Victoria.

What happens after kindergarten?

After completing kindergarten, children in Victoria transition to primary school, starting with Foundation (also known as Prep). The skills and experiences gained during kindergarten help ensure a smooth transition to formal schooling, laying a strong foundation for future learning and development.


Choosing a kindergarten that’s right for your child

Choosing a kindergarten centre can be a long, but extremely important, journey. It’s about finding a place where your child feels safe, valued and excited to learn. Take your time and gather as much information as possible before making a decision.

Of course, it’s crucial to visit a kindergarten before deciding whether it’s right for your child. Visiting potential kindergartens allows you to see the learning environment first-hand and observe how educators interact with children.

At Aurrum Kids, we understand the importance of this decision and invite you to book a tour to see our modern facilities, meet our team and ask any questions you may have about our kindergarten program. With locations in Mornington and Ballarat, Aurrum Kids offers an enriching and holistic early learning experience tailored to the needs and interests of each child. Contact us today to find out more about our kindergarten program.