4yo Kindergarten frequently asked questions

What is 4 year-old kindergarten

4 year-old Kindergarten (also called preschool) is a program for young children delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher. Your child’s learning and curiosity will be encouraged through experiences and activities, such as exploring the natural world, being exposed to new ideas and solving problems.

Early childhood educators develop and implement a play-based curriculum for children, taking into account their current knowledge, culture, abilities, ideas, interests and individual needs. The Victorian Early Learning Framework and the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia guides the program’s development. Key early learning and development outcomes include:

  1. Children have a strong sense of identity
  2. Children are connected to and contribute to their world
  3. Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
  4. Children are confident and involved learners
  5. Children are effective communicators

For more information about how your chosen kindergarten implements the approved learning frameworks, please discuss with your child’s educators. 

When should my child attend kindergarten

All Victorian children are eligible for one state-funded year of 4 year-old kindergarten in the year before they are due to start school. To be eligible, your child must have turned four years of age by 30 April in the year attending kindergarten. A child cannot attend more than one year of Victorian Government-funded four year old kindergarten.

We recognise that all children develop at different rates and we encourage families to consider their child’s needs and development before accessing their one year funded four-year-old kindergarten year.

Children’s social and emotional development are vital for children to have a strong transition to school. We encourage families to think about their child’s school starting age and when the best time to access kindergarten would be. 

Can my child attend 2 years of 4 year old kindergarten

Children meeting the criteria for a second year of Four-Year-Old Kindergarten (when a child shows delays in at least two key outcomes of learning and development) will be eligible to access one additional year of kindergarten prior to starting school. This decision is made in conjunction with your child’s teacher and the Department of Education (DE).

What if my child needs another year of kindergarten

If your child has been professionally diagnosed with additional needs or you have any concerns these need to be raised with the educators as soon as possible. Options for referral and support strategies can then be put in place. Early childhood educators work with families to support children with additional needs and provide advice about options, including access to a second year of kindergarten.

Applications for a second year of four-year-old kindergarten will be discussed and completed by your child’s teacher. This is then approved by Department Education. 

Can my child start kindergarten early

If a child is less than four years of age by 30 April in the year they are to attend a funded kindergarten program, the parents/guardians must first request approval for early school entry for their child to attend school in the following year. Please note that children granted early entry to kindergarten are not eligible to apply for another year of funded kindergarten in the following year if the child does not attend school.

A copy of the written request for early school entry must accompany the child’s kindergarten registration form. This must be sighted and attached to the child’s application form prior to confirmation of enrolment. Further information regarding early entry to kindergarten is available at www.education.vic.gov.au

My child is turning 6 next year – are they still eligible for kindergarten

Children who turn six at any time during the kindergarten year need to complete a form exempting them from attending school.

Families must obtain an approved exemption before the child starts kindergarten by submitting an exemption from school form to the Department of Education. This must be provided prior to confirming enrolment. For further information www.education.vic.gov.au

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

Children attend 4 year-old kindergarten for 15 hours a week, during school term. Sessions, days and times vary, depending on each kindergarten’s structure. 

How much does it cost

Four 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 15 hours for four year olds. 

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.