3yo Kindergarten frequently asked questions

What is three year old kindergarten

Three year old kindergarten programs are an opportunity for children to learn in a flexible, play based environment where educators use a combination of child-led and intentional teaching to support each child’s individual learning.

Research shows that play-based learning is a powerful way to support children’s development. 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.

Children are given the opportunity to use their imagination and practise important skills, such as problem solving, through play-based learning.

Children start to learn literacy, numeracy and language skills at kindergarten. They also learn how to get along with others, share, listen, and focus their attention.

Teachers and educators help children become curious, creative, and confident about learning. Often, they will introduce a play-experience, idea or topic and let children lead their own learning through exploration and experimentation

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.

Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is a government funded kindergarten program for all children to access. To be eligible, your child must have turned three years of age by 30 April in the year they attend three year-old Kindergarten.

Children will only be able to access one year of government funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. 

Children accessing Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will transition to Four-Year-Old Kindergarten the following year. 

Is my child ready

To be eligible for a place in a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, your child must have turned three years of age by 30 April due to ratio requirements. 

Families are encouraged to consider the best time for their child to access a three-year-old program, and how this may impact on their one year of funded four-year-old kindergarten and their school starting age.  

Families with children born between January and April can choose which year to start Three-Year-Old kindergarten. These children can start in the same year they turn three, or in the year they turn four years of age.

For further information about when is the best time to start 3 year-old kindergarten see link below.


How many hours/days each week will my child be able to attend

In 2024 funded 3 year-old kindergarten program hours will vary from 5 to 15 hours across our 6 Kindergarten services.

Provision of increased hours for three year old kindergarten in 2024 will be subject to enrolment confirmation and operational requirements. Sessions may be offered over one or two days depending on each kindergartens timetable. These are structured to make best use of the space available and to reflect community needs.

How much does it cost

Three- Year- Old Kindergarten is funded by the state government and is free for all families as part of the ‘Best Start Best Life’ reform.

Funding is available for minimum of 5 hours for three year olds. In 2024 children will be funded pro-rata for the hours they are attending Kindergarten which will be subject to operational requirements. 

Is my child eligible for Early Start Kindergarten

Early Start Kinder gives eligible children 15 hours of free or low-cost kindergarten a week for 2 years before starting school. You may be offered a place in a three year old or four year old kindergarten program.

To be eligible, your child must be 3 by 30 April in the year they start kindergarten, and:

  • from a refugee or asylum seeker background, or
  • identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or
  • your family has had contact with child protection.

Children can also access free or low cost Four-Year-Old Kindergarten through the Early Start Kindergarten Extension Grant.

For more information please email centralapplication@surfcoast.vic.gov.au or go to https://www.vic.gov.au/early-start-kindergarten

What is No Jab No Play

 ‘No Jab, No play’ legislation became effective on 1 January 2016. This legislation requires children to be fully vaccinated for their age before they can be enrolled in a kindergarten program.

Conscientious objection is not an exemption.

Prior to your child’s enrolment being confirmed, you need to provide:

  • a current Immunisation History Statement from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR); AND
  • the statement must show that the child is up to date with all vaccinations that are due for their age, or that they are able to receive

The immunisation history statement from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) is the only document accepted for enrolments. Letters from GPs or local councils are not accepted.

You can find out more about No Jab No Play at  https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/campaigns/no-jab-no-play

Families can print a copy of their child’s Immunisation History Statement from their myGov account or:

  • call the AIR on 1800 653 809 or  visit a Medicare or Centrelink office.

How can I be involved

Kindergartens encourage active family participation and value links with their local communities. If your Kindergarten has a Parent Advisory Group you can become involved through the Parent Advisory Group. You are also welcome to come along and take part in the program, including by sharing your skills and expertise with your child’s group. To be involved in the program, you will need to have a Working with Children Check and fill out a Kindergarten Family Helper application.

To register online, email volunteering@surfcoast.vic.gov.au or complete an online registration form


How will I know how my child is going

Early childhood educators maintain documentation about each child’s development and learning goals. These are available in each room. Opportunities for parent/educator meetings will be provided and parents are always welcome to ask early childhood educators about their child’s progress.

EDUCA- Educa provides an interactive online method of documentation and communication. It allows teachers and educators to highlight each child’s individual learning while at kindergarten and gives parents, the advantage of being involved in their child’s progress and special moments in a timely manner. With Educa, families are able to see the kindergarten program as it develops and its links to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF).

Educa also provides a unique and interactive feature that allows teachers, educators and parents to give constructive feedback and/or comments on the curriculum and learning goals.

Transition Learning and Development Statements are developed for each child in preparation for their primary school orientation in term four. These statements include input from educators and family, and provide an insight into your child’s progress over the kindergarten year.

Which kindergarten is best for children with additional learning needs

Surf Coast Shire kindergartens provide an inclusive program for all children. Families are encouraged to provide details of any additional needs or medical requirements your child may have, during the application process.

Early childhood educators work with families to support children with additional needs and provide advice about their need, including discussing referral pathways and additional support. 

How to apply

Online applications for Kindergarten in 2024 are open from 10 April 2023.

Kindergarten Online Application

Families have until 18 June 2023 to submit their form to be considered for first round offers. Applications received after 18 June 2023 will be processed in September 2023 once round one applications have been confirmed.

Kindergarten applicants will be notified before the end of Term Three.

Contact information

Kindergarten Engagement Officer - 5261 0585 centralapplication@surfcoast.vic.gov.au

Team Leader Kindergarten Programs - 5261 0548

Prior to making your decision, you are invited to contact the Kindergartens directly to organise a convenient time to visit the service.

About the National Quality Framework and Standards

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority oversee the National Quality Framework and ensure the consistent and effective implementation of the National Quality Standards, learning frameworks, and relevant laws and regulations pertaining to early years learning.

The National Quality Standards set out national benchmarks for the quality of education and care services. They aim to promote:

  • the safety, health and wellbeing of children,
  • a focus on achieving outcomes for children through high quality educational programs, and
  • families’ understanding of what distinguishes a quality service.

The standards are divided into seven quality areas:

  1. Educational program and practice
  2. Children’s health and safety
  3. Physical environment
  4. Staffing arrangements
  5. Relationships with children
  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
  7. Leadership and service management

National Quality Standards rating and assessment process

Approved services, such as Surf Coast Shire Council’s early years learning programs, are assessed and rated against each of the seven quality areas. This process aims to drive continuous quality improvement and to provide families with better information for making choices about their child’s education and care.