A great new way to find funded kindergarten in Victoria
A great new way to find funded kindergarten in Victoria
Teacher-led, play-based kinder programs are beneficial for all Australian preschoolers, and if you live in Victoria, the Kinder Tick is making it easier for you to find a program that will set your child up for success.
Today, we explain the Kinder Tick and share the benefits of approved kinder programs, both in early childhood and later life.
We’re also very pleased to report that two years of funded kindergarten is being rolled out in Victoria, so without further ado, here’s the lowdown on kinder in the Education State.
What is the Kinder Tick?
The Kinder Tick is a purple and black symbol that was introduced earlier this year to help Victorian parents and carers ‘find kinder you can count on.’
Although it’s not compulsory for an early childhood education and care (ECEC) service to display or use the Kinder Tick, this symbol points families in the direction of approved kindergarten programs.
When you see the Kinder Tick, you can be confident that:
- The program will be led by a qualified teacher
- Children will benefit from play-based learning
- The kindergarten program is funded and approved by the Victorian Government, and
- The program complies with government guidelines and the National Quality Framework.
This is the same in both long day care and standalone kindergarten services, and you can look for the Kinder Tick on an ECEC service’s building, website or in their materials (and if it’s not visible, you can always ask the service directly if a funded kindergarten program is available).
A Kinder Tick points you in the direction of an approved kindergarten program, but it’s important to clarify that this symbol isn’t a rating system. All Australian kindergarten programs are independently assessed and rated under the National Quality Framework, and this is a separate process which involves services being rated in seven different quality areas, then given an overall rating.
Where are kindergarten programs available?
Kindergarten programs are delivered in both long day care and standalone services, and the Kinder Tick applies to both settings.
The government says, ‘All funded kindergarten programs in Victoria are led by a qualified early childhood teacher and offer a play-based learning program based on the same government guidelines,’ so you can decide what type of service suits your family best.
Location, cost, availability and ‘feel’ will all influence your decision, and the Victorian government explains that:
- A standalone kindergarten offers up to 15 hours of a funded kindergarten program to eligible three- and four-year-olds.
- Alternatively, many long day care centres offer a funded kindergarten program as part of their full day of education and care.
- The government says, ‘Kindergarten programs delivered in a long day care setting provide flexibility for parents and carers by offering child care before and after the kindergarten program.’
- If you have more than one child at care, long day care can be convenient because it caters for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under the one roof.
The funded kindergarten programs are the same in both types of service, but individual services set their own days and session times when the program is available. They also have their own enrolment processes and timelines, which you can ask about when you find a service that suits.
How will your child benefit from a kindergarten program?
A kinder program will have a positive effect on your child’s learning and development, and the earlier you enrol them, the more positive this effect will be.
An approved kinder program will help your child to do well before school, at school and later in their lives, and specifically, the government says there’s evidence that:
- Play-based learning is the best way to help youngsters learn, develop well, and prepare to thrive at school
- Children who attend a kindergarten program are less likely to be developmentally vulnerable at school
- Children in Year 3 who attended kindergarten have been found to be 15 to 20 weeks ahead of those who didn’t attend, and
- Kindergarten teaches children key skills for life, including early literacy, numeracy and language skills, social and emotional skills, and creative thinking.
Your child will be encouraged to explore, enquire and imagine as they learn through play, and learning programs will be tailored to your preschooler’s age, needs and interests.
The Kinder Tick confirms that early childhood teachers are qualified, learning is play-based and guidelines are followed, and an enriching kinder program will get a tick of approval from you and your child, because kindergarten is both fulfilling and fun!
How is the government supporting earlier access to kinder programs?
The Victorian government says that two years of kinder is better than one, and it’s putting its money where its mouth is by investing almost $5 billion (over a decade) to introduce Funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, in addition to the Funded Four-Year-Old Kindergarten it already offers.
Funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is rolling out in stages:
- Currently, three-year-olds in 21 government areas can access up to 15 hours of funded kindergarten per week (these places were chosen because they had the capacity to offer kinder programs to local littlies).
- From 2022, three-year-olds throughout Victoria will have access to five hours of a funded kinder program each week (with children eligible for the Early Start Kindergarten program still getting 15 hours of free or low cost kinder per week for two years before they start school).
- And by 2029, three-year-olds across the state will be able to access 15 hours of a funded kindergarten program per week for 40 weeks of the year.
Meanwhile, Funded Four-Year-Old Kindergarten involves the government partly paying for 15 hours of kindergarten per week to keep fees low for families.
In 2021, Free Kinder is also making kinder affordable or free at some standalone kindergartens and long day care centres. If a service is participating in Free Kinder, then it provides free kinder programs for all four-year-olds and lower fees for eligible three-year-olds.
All of this bodes well for Victorian families, and it shows that the government is truly committed to kinder. They’re investing in our children’s learning and development, and introducing a state-wide kindergarten reform that’s not matched by any other state or territory in Australia.
You’re encouraged to look for the Kinder Tick, ask your prospective service about its individual fees and enrolment policies, then get ready to reap the rewards of a teacher-led, play-based kinder program in the two years before your child goes to big school!
Victorian Government: Kinder Tick
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 21 June 2021
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