child running their hands through shallow puddle

Kindergarten (also called preschool or kinder) is an early childhood educational program for young children delivered by qualified early childhood educators.

Programs are based on the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF).

Kindergarten programs operate in a variety of settings throughout Maroondah, including:

  • standalone community kindergartens
  • integrated within community based or private long day care
  • and services in independent schools.  

About Kindergarten

Why should my child attend kindergarten?

A quality early childhood education has many benefits for children. Research shows that kindergarten improves children’s health and wellbeing, helps them to develop strong social skills and fosters a love of learning.

Research also shows that attending two years of quality kindergarten has even greater benefits. Children who attend kindergarten are more independent and confident and are more likely to make a smooth transition to primary school.

Kindergarten can provide an opportunity for families to get to know their local community and establish local support networks.  Families can often contribute through social events, working bees or as parent helpers.   

The level of support needed from families will vary at each kindergarten depending on whether the service is managed by an Early Years Management group (EYM), a private provider or a volunteer Committee of Management. Talk to your service about how you could get involved.

All children have the right to a quality education. If your child has a disability, a learning difficulty or other additional needs, it is important when choosing a kindergarten to talk to the educators about how their program and environment can support your child.

Programs and initiatives

Best Start, Best Life Kindergarten Reform

The Victorian Government has committed to expanding kindergarten programs across Victoria so that every child is supported to get the best start for the best life.

Funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is currently being rolled out across the state and by 2029 all three-year-old children will have access to 15 hours of funded kindergarten each week led by a qualified early childhood teacher.

New reform initiatives include:

  • Free kinder for all three and four year old children at participating services from 2023.
  • Over the next decade four-year-old kindergarten will transition to ‘Pre-Prep’ - a universal 30-hour a week program of play-based learning.
  • 50 Government-owned and affordable childcare centres will be established across the state.

For more information on The Best Start, Best Life reforms visit the Victorian Government website.

Kindergarten Outreach Program

Council’s outreach program supports children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to enrol and participate in kindergarten. Bilingual staff are available to support families that speak Hakha Chin, Falem Chin and Burmese.

Visit Council's Kindergarten Outreach Program webpage for more information.

Early Start Kindergarten

Early Start Kindergarten provides up to 15 hours of free or low-cost kindergarten per week to eligible three-year-old children.

For more information on Early Start Kindergarten visit the Victorian Government's website.

Koorie Kids Shine

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children can access up to 15 hours of free or low-cost kindergarten each week through Koorie Kids Shine.

For more information on Kindergarten for Aboriginal children: Koorie Kids Shine visit the Victorian Governments website.

Preschool Field Officer Program (PSFO)

Preschool Field Officers provide short-term guidance and coaching to early childhood educators. This support aims to improve the inclusion of children with additional needs.

For more information on the PSFO: Specialist Teaching Support visit the Uniting ELC website.

When should my child attend kindergarten?

In Victoria, children can attend one or two years of kindergarten before they start school. 

To be eligible for kindergarten, a child must turn 3 or 4 before 30 April in the year of Kindergarten attendance.  Every child’s development is unique, so the best time to start kindergarten depends on a range of individual factors.

To decide if your child is ready to start kindergarten, talk to your maternal and child health nurse about your child’s health and wellbeing. Your child’s two-year-old appointment is a great time to start this conversation.

All children learn and develop in different ways. Some children may benefit from starting kindergarten and school at a younger age, while other children may benefit from starting later.

Children are expected to complete a full year of kindergarten in the year they enrol and begin attending. All children in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will be expected to transition to Four-Year-Old Kindergarten in the following year.

During the year before school, the early childhood teacher and the child’s parents, carers or legal guardians will work together to plan for the child’s transition to school. In exceptional circumstances where a child is observed to display delays in key outcome areas of learning and development, a second year of funded Four-Year-Old Kindergarten may be considered in the best interest of the child.

You can also seek advice from an early childhood educator, your family doctor or another professional your child sees, such as a paediatrician or speech pathologist.

A starting age calculator can be found on the Victorian Government website.

Where should my child attend kindergarten?

Kindergarten programs are delivered in both long day care and standalone services by qualified early childhood educators.

You can choose what works best for your family and child – the kindergarten programs are the same. No matter where your child attends a kindergarten program, they’ll be learning through play with an early childhood teacher. Research shows that play-based learning is the best way to help young children learn, develop well, and prepare to thrive at school.

All kindergarten programs in Victoria, regardless of service type, are independently assessed and rated under the National Quality Framework. All programs are developed in line with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework.

Long day care service: a long day care service typically offers a full day of education and care to children from birth to school age, and many offer a funded kindergarten program as part of their service. The early childhood teacher-led kindergarten program may be integrated with additional hours of education and care. Kindergarten programs delivered in a long day care service provide flexibility for parents and carers by offering childcare before and after the kindergarten program.

Standalone service: a standalone kindergarten offers up to 15 hours of a funded kindergarten program to eligible three and four-year-old children.

In both service types, the funded kindergarten program may be available on certain days and session times. These days and session times are set by the service. Deciding where to send your child will depend on which services are available in your community, and your family’s needs.

Children can access kindergarten programs in either setting, it is not compulsory to attend one or the other, however children can only access a funded kindergarten program at one service at any one time.

There are over 60 funded kindergarten services in Maroondah, so it can be hard to know where to start when choosing a kindergarten for your child.

Fortunately, there are useful tools available to help you find kindergartens near you:

How do I enrol my child in a kindergarten?

The majority of standalone kindergartens in Maroondah are part of the Maroondah Integrated Kindergarten’s Association (MIKA) central enrolment system, which is supported by Council. Information on the enrolment process is outlined below.

Kindergarten programs that are not part of the MIKA central enrolment system manage their own enrolments and may have different enrolment dates. To enrol in these kindergartens, please contact the kindergarten directly.

Maroondah Integrated Kindergarten Association (MIKA)

Application process

The MIKA central enrolment system operates on an annual cycle, with applications taken the year prior to attendance. Applications open on 1 March every year and close on 30 June.

All applications are treated equally on 30 June so there is no pressure to submit an application early.

Families will be offered a place at the start of August and can choose to accept, decline or defer their place. 

Applications are accepted all year round, however after 30 June they will be considered a ‘late’ application and you may not get your preferred service or program hours.

For more information watch the MIKA application information video on YouTube.

To apply for a three-year-old or four-year-old place in a MIKA kindergarten, please complete an online application.

If you need any assistance with your application, please call MIKA on 0449 997 488.

Allocation of places

Places in a MIKA member service are allocated by a two-step process.

1. The Priority of Access (POA) criteria is applied.

POA criteria is set by the Department of Education to assist children at risk of disadvantage to access a kindergarten program.

For more information on priority of access for early childhood education visit the Victorian Government website.

2. Proximity criteria is applied.

This is the only local criteria set by MIKA to prioritise those families that live closest to the service.

The number of places available at each service will depend on capacity and demand in the local area. 

If places are still available once the allocation criteria have been applied, you may attend a service that is not closest to home.

Allocation of groups

Once all ‘on time’ applications have been accepted it is then up to each kindergarten service to contact families and let them know the group allocation process and key dates. This generally occurs in mid to late August. 

For services under an Early Years Management group (EYM) this will be managed centrally rather than by the individual service.

If families are not offered the group they need there may be opportunity to move to another service but this will depend on availability of places at the time.

What funding is available for kindergarten?

The Victorian Government provides funding to kindergarten services to contribute to the cost of running a funded kindergarten program, which helps to keep the fees set by individual kindergartens as low as possible.

Eligible kindergarten service providers, regardless of setting, will receive per capita funding for each eligible child who is enrolled and attending a funded kindergarten program.

All children in a funded kindergarten program, at a standalone or long day care service that have opted-in to the Free Kinder initiative are also eligible to receive Free Kinder funding. In a standalone service this means a free 15-hour program for 4-year-olds and between 5 to 15-hour program for 3-year-olds. In long day care services, the funding will offset the funded kindergarten program component of the fees for 3 and 4-year-old children enrolled.

Funded places take priority at all times of the year. 

Preschool Field Officer program

The Preschool Field Officer (PSFO) program is designed to provide practical advice and support to Victorian government funded kindergarten services to build their capacity to provide access for children with additional needs.

Which kindergartens are eligible?

All Victorian state funded kindergarten programs are eligible to receive PSFO services including four-year-old programs; funded three-year-old kindergarten programs; or where support is requested for a child accessing Early Start Kindergarten by the Kindergarten Educator.

Which children are eligible?

Children with additional needs attending a government funded kindergarten program are the target group for PSFOs. The PSFO program defines children with additional needs as children presenting with developmental concerns.

Developmental concerns may be associated with any area of children's development, from language delays or challenging behaviours through to children with multiple disabilities.

What cost is involved?

There is no cost to the kindergarten services or families for the PSFO program and it is accessible within the universal system.

How does the PSFO program work?

PSFO's work within the context of the kindergarten program. The PSFO does not directly deliver intervention to a child within the kindergarten setting but acts as a consultant and coach to the early childhood educator. The approach may involve direct contact with the child and family in the kindergarten setting, however, this work is done in collaboration with and through the early childhood educator in a manner that respects the ongoing relationship with the child and family. The PSFO may directly observe the child in the kindergarten environment and contribute to the educator's assessment of the child's capabilities as well as their learning and development needs. The PSFO's also assist the educator to identify and link families to a range of supports available and assist the educator's program planning for the child in the kindergarten program.

As the PSFO service supports early childhood educators to respond to the individual needs of a child with additional needs, the early childhood educator is required to obtain informed consent from parents/guardians/carers for PSFO involvement with their child, prior to requesting PSFO assistance.

Further information

For more information on the Preschool Field Officer program visit the Victorian Government website

Further information

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