Sending your child to kinder | Victorian Government (2023)

Sending your child to kinder | Victorian Government (1)

Sending your child to kinder | Victorian Government (2)

On this page:

  • The best start for every Victorian child
  • Kindergarten programs in Victoria
  • The benefits of attending 2 years of kinder
  • Free Kinder
  • See what kinder is like
  • When to start Three and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten
  • How much kinder costs
  • Finding a kinder that suits your family
  • Kinder Kits
  • Transitioning to Pre-Prep from 2025

The best start for every Victorian child

The Victorian Government’s $14 billion Best Start, Best Life reforms are the most significant change to Victoria’s early childhood sector in a generation.

This means:

  • Free Kinder: Starting in 2023, all children in Victoria who are 3 and 4 years old can access Free Kinder. This is available at both standalone (sessional) kindergartens and long day care (childcare) centres. This means families will save up to $2,500 per child each year.
  • Three-Year-Old Kindergarten: The roll-out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten continues, with programs increasing to 15 hours a week across the state by 2029, providing Victorian children with 2 years of a quality kindergarten program before school.
  • Pre-Prep: In the next 10 years, Four-Year-Old Kindergarten in Victoria will change to 'Pre-Prep'. This means that every 4-year-old child can go to a play-based learning program for 30 hours per week.
  • Early Learning Centres: We’re establishing 50 Victorian government-owned and operated early learning centres. We will build these centres in areas with the greatest need. This will make it easier for families to access childcare. The first of the centres will be ready in 2025 and will be co-located at Eaglehawk North Primary School, Moomba Park Primary School in Fawkner, Murtoa College and Sunshine Primary School.

The Best Start, Best Life reforms are providing all Victorian children — regardless of their life circumstances, background, or postcode — access to 2 years of quality kinder before they start primary school.

This means Victorian children will benefit, and so will their families – saving money and providing more options, making it easier for parents and carers, especially women, to work.

Kindergarten programs in Victoria

View transcript

The benefits of attending 2 years of kinder

  • Research shows that play-based learning is a powerful way to support children’s development. These benefits last into the school years and beyond.

    Did you know that 90 per cent of a child’s brain develops by the time they turn five?

    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.

    Sending your child to kinder | Victorian Government (3)

    ¹E4 Kids, University of Melbourne²Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education Project, Department for Education, United Kingdom³A Smart Investment for a Smarter Australia, PricewaterhouseCoopers & The Front Project

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  • 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 kinder. 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.

    Sending your child to kinder | Victorian Government (5)

    Kinder programs are designed to meet the needs of their local families. All kinder programs work with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. This makes sure the programs are right for children's ages.

Free Kinder

Free Kinder is available in Three- and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten programs across Victoria at participating services at both standalone and long day care services.

Free Kinder means a saving of up to $2,500 per child, each year, and also means more than 28,000 Victorians can return to work, including almost 26,600 of which are women.

Participating kinder programs will receive funding directly from the Victorian Government, so families are not out of pocket (and don’t have to claim the savings back).

For families with children enrolled in standalone kinder programs, Free Kinder means a free program at participating services:

  • For 3-year-old children, this means a free kinder program of between 5 and 15 hours each week (200-600 hours each year).
  • For 4-year-olds, this means a free kinder program of 15 hours each week (600 hours each year).

For families with children enrolled in kinder programs at long day care services, Free Kinder means a fee offset of up to $2,000 per child at participating services:

  • For 3-year-old children, this means from $666.67 (for a child enrolled in the funded kinder program for 5 hours) to $2,000 (for a child enrolled for 15 hours).
  • For 4-year-old children, this means $2,000 for children enrolled in a 15-hour kinder program (600 hours a year).

Long day care centres are required to pass on the full amount to families as a direct reduction in their out-of-pocket fees. This will provide a free program for some families and a significantly reduced cost for other families, depending on service fees, number of days attended, and the amount of Commonwealth subsidy received.

Your child can only access one funded kinder program at a time. This means that only one service can claim kindergarten funding for your child and pass on the Free Kinder savings.

Free Kinder is for every Victorian child, regardless of visa status. Find more information about kindergarten programs in your own language.

See what kinder is like

Experience a day in kinder, where learning through play makes every day a new adventure.

View transcript

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When to start Three and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten

Use the Starting Age Calculator to enter your child's birth date to find out what year they can start Three- and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten.

  • 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 3, or in the year they turn 4 years of age.

    Due to staffing requirements, some services may ask that children start attending kinder only after their third birthday. This may mean that some children may not start attending their kinder program until part-way into Term 1.

    When your child starts at kindergarten directly relates to the age they will start at primary school. When enrolling at Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, we encourage families to plan ahead and consider the age they would like their child to start at school.

    If your child will turn 6 in late December (between the last day of the school year and 31 December), they can attend Four-Year-Old Kindergarten in that year and attend school the following year.

    Speak to your local services about the best time for your child to start at Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

  • There are a few things you need to know when making this decision:

    • Kinder services are required to have a different ratio of staff to children, this will vary depending on the children's ages
    • Some services might not have the number of staff needed to accommodate 2-year-olds. For these services, your child must have turned 3 before they can attend.
    • If your child turns 3 by 30 April and you would like them to start kinder that year, you can still enrol your child. Services will hold your child's place until they are old enough to attend.

    If you have any questions, contact your local kinder service. Services can contact for more information.

How much kinder costs

  • All Victorian children are eligible to access Free Kinder at participating services. If a child is not attending a Free Kinder program, the amount a family pays will vary depending on the type of early childhood education service their child attends.

    For kinder programs in long day care centres, families usually pay a per-day fee. Eligible families can receive a rebate on this per-day fee via the Commonwealth Government’s ChildCareSubsidy (CCS).

    Some standalone kindergarten services may choose to not participate in Free Kinder. These services will ask families to pay fees termly or annually. These fees are set by providers.

    As a condition of Free Kinder, services must offer a free 15-hour program. However, some standalone services may choose to offer additional kindergarten program hours on top of the free 15-hour program.

    Services may charge families for the additional hours. The fees for these additional hours can be set at the service's discretion, in consultation with their community, and are not subject to funded kindergarten fee policies.

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  • 3-year-old children who are eligible for the Early Start Kindergarten program are entitled to 15 hours of free kinder each week now, no matter how many hours are offered in the standard program, no matter where they live. Early Start Kindergarten is available for children who are:

    • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
    • known to Child Protection or have been referred by Child Protection to Child FIRST
    • from a refugee or asylum seeker background.

    3- and 4-year-old children eligible for the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy can also access a free program. This will be a 15-hour program for 4-year-olds and a program of between 5 and 15 hours for 3-year-olds, depending on which the service is in and the number of hours offered.

    Speak to your kinder service about your family’s eligibility when you enrol your child.

Finding a kinder that suits your family

To find services offering free and government-approved kinder programs with play-based learning, visit the Find a KinderExternal Link website.

This interactive map helps you find kinder programs that have been approved by the Victorian Government in locations convenient to you.

Look for the Kinder Tick The Victorian Government is making it easier to find funded and approved kindergarten programs. For kinder you can count on, look for the Kinder Tick.

Talk to your local kindergarten or childcare service about their enrolment process. A central enrolment system may operate in your area. To find out more, contact your local council.

  • Three-Year-Old Kinder programs are for between 5 and 15 hours each week from 2023.

    As there are different hours available for Three-Year-Old programs, you may have more choice in session times.

    Some services have shorter session times, which might suit families with older children at school. Longer hours may work better for other families.

    Kinder programs are also available in different settings, including standalone kindergartens and long day care centres.

  • Children can attend a kinder program at either a long day care centre or at a standalone kindergarten.

    A long day care centre can offer a full day of education and care, including a kinder program. The teacher-led kinder program is integrated with additional hours of education and care.

    At a standalone service, a kinder program will only operate on certain days and at specific times. These days and hours are set by the kinder service.

    No matter where your child goes to kinder, teachers and trained educators will lead the program.

    Sending your child to kinder | Victorian Government (8)

    Sending your child to kinder | Victorian Government (9)

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  • Choosing a quality kinder service will ensure your child gets the most from their time at kinder.

    The Kinder Tick helps Victorian families find a funded kinder program for their children.

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

    Sending your child to kinder | Victorian Government (10)

    You may wish to visit a service or centre to meet staff to help you decide which service will best suit your child.

Kinder Kits

All children starting free Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, including Early Start Kindergarten and Access to Early Learning, in 2023 and 2024 will be eligible to receive a Kinder KitExternal Link , helping them develop their love of learning at home as well as kinder.

The Kinder Kit contents have been carefully curated and provide educational and fun items to support three-year-old children to develop their skills and creativity as they learn through play.

Transitioning to Pre-Prep from 2025

Four-Year-Old Kindergarten will transition to Pre-Prep in stages from 2025. As Pre-Prep gradually rolls out over the next decade, children will receive up to 30 hours per week of high-quality, play-based learning in the year before school. By 2032, children across the state will have access to 30 hours of Pre-Prep.

Pre-Prep will be rolled out across Victoria in stages, ensuring our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are prioritised for earlier access, no matter where they live, as well as Aboriginal children.

Read more on the Pre-Prep webpage.

This privacy noticeExternal Link explains how we will be handling personal information as part of the Best Start Best Life reform consultation and engagement approach.

Reviewed 16 August 2023


  • Kinder
    • Sending your child to kinder
    • Kindergarten for Aboriginal children: Koorie Kids Shine
    • Look for the Kinder Tick
    • Find a kinder program
  • Relocate to teach kinder in Victoria
(Video) Consequences of Over Protected Children- Jordan Peterson


What are your hopes for your child in kindergarten? ›

Develop positive self-esteem. Learn to work and play with others. Learn to work independently. Learn to follow directions and classroom expectations.

How important is kindergarten? ›

The importance of kindergarten centers around the fact that it allows children to explore and grow academically, socially, and emotionally through play-based learning activities like music time or outdoor playtime.

Who is eligible for free Kinder vic? ›

Child eligibility

All children enrolled in a funded kindergarten program at a participating service are eligible for Free Kinder from 2023. In line with existing policies for per capita funding, children must only receive Free Kinder funding at one service (see process for duplicate enrolments below).

What is the goal of kindergarten education? ›

Kindergarten provides your child with an opportunity to learn and practice the essential social, emotional, problem-solving, and study skills that he will use throughout his schooling. The development of self-esteem is one of the important goals of kindergarten.

What are 3 goals you have for your child? ›

Interact and get along socially with peers. Develop strong, good self-concepts, which will hold well into elementary school years. Be happy with school ideas and new friends. Develop self-control.

What are your hopes and goals for your child? ›

I hope for happiness and health, for love and wellbeing. I hope that life is fair to them, That they surround themselves with people who see their worth, men that respect them, friends that cherish them, and work jobs that inspire them to be the best they can be, whilst fulfilling their inner strengths.

Is it okay to not go to kindergarten? ›

Kindergarten is not compulsory in California and most other states, although it is mandated in 19 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Education Commission of the States, a research group that tracks education policy. Children are required to be enrolled in school at age 6 in California.

What is the best age to start kindergarten? ›

Kindergarten is available to children whose fifth birthdays are on or before September 1st of the school year. Kindergarten curriculum is designed to meet the needs and teach children who are in this age range.

Why you should not skip kindergarten? ›

“This early learning window is so important for learning critical skills,” said Jenny Hontz, a parent and spokeswoman for Speak Up, a Los Angeles parent advocate group. “It could take years for the kids to catch up and some kids may be permanently harmed by this.”

Is Kinder the same as daycare? ›

The main difference between daycare and kindergarten is that you can enrol your child into daycare from birth, while kindergartens admit children from two years old. Daycare centres can be privately owned, provided by the parents' employers as a working benefit or managed by a local community.

What does Kinder mean in kindergarten? ›

Kinder means children and garten means garden. The term dates back to the 19th century. Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) started the first kindergarten, Garden of Children, in 1840.

What should kids know by the end of kindergarten? ›

Kindergartners will learn to recognize, write, order, and count objects up to the number 30. They'll also add and subtract small numbers (add with a sum of 10 or less and subtract from 10 or less). This focus on addition and subtraction will continue through second grade.

How many letters should a 5 year old know? ›

They investigated the diagnostic efficiency of various upper- and lowercase letter-naming standards for 371 preschoolers, and one particular question in the study attempted to identify “optimal benchmarks.” Findings indicated that an end-of-preschool/beginning of kindergarten benchmark of ten letters was adequate to ...

What should a child know before kindergarten? ›

Students who are entering kindergarten should be able to:
  • Verbalize Wants and Needs. ...
  • Write Their Names. ...
  • Handle a Book. ...
  • Get Themselves Dressed. ...
  • Be Independent in the Bathroom. ...
  • Use Scissors, Glue, and Crayons. ...
  • Identify Some Letters and Letter Sounds. ...
  • Count to 10.

What goals do I have for my child in school? ›

Top 10 educational goal examples to try
  • Improve reading comprehension. ...
  • Practice (and master) multiplication facts. ...
  • Raise overall GPA. ...
  • Improve time management. ...
  • Make time for artistic pursuits. ...
  • Improve public speaking skills. ...
  • Sign up for extracurricular activities. ...
  • Socialize with peers.
Apr 21, 2022

What hopes or goals do you have for your child in fifth grade? ›

In fifth grade, students will practice more complex mathematical concepts such as exponents, decimals, fractions and more. They will read and understand new vocabulary in science and social studies as well significantly improve their grammar skills.

What do you hope your child will accomplish at school? ›

Be able to apply the learning to real life. Respect others' opinions and to take input and make an informed opinion. Lead independent lives. Be successful as adults.

What parents hope for their child? ›

Kids' happiness and satisfaction reign supreme

Since mental health presented such a significant concern among parents, it's perhaps unsurprising that a vast majority of parents (88%) say their children's financial stability and job satisfaction as adults are very or extremely important to them, the survey found.


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