WHAT IS KINDERGARTEN

What is Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a program for young children delivered by a qualified Early Childhood Teacher, usually in the year before school.

Please note that children cannot attend more than one year of funded kindergarten. For a child to access a second year of funded kindergarten they need to meet the criteria set by Department of Education and Training (DET).

Kindergarten places managed through the Central Enrolment Service are for sessional and long day care kindergarten programs. If sessional kindergarten hours don’t meet the needs of your family a funded kindergarten program in a Long Day Care centre may better meet your needs.

Day Care Rates may apply for Kindergarten in a Long Day Care setting.

is My Child Eligible For Kindergarten This Year?

As per DET funding criteria, the following children are eligible to attend kindergarten:

  • Children who turn 4 years old on or before the 30 April in the year they will be attending kindergarten.
  • Children who have received funding for a second year of 4 year old kindergarten.
  • Children who were eligible to attend the kindergarten program in the previous year but parents chose to defer to the following year.
  • Children who are turning 6 years of age in their year of kindergarten who have been granted an exemption from school entry age requirements by their regional Department of Education and Training (DET) office.
  • Please note children do not need to be toilet trained to attend kindergarten; however independent toileting skills are encouraged.

For more information visit the DET website www.education.vic.gov.au

Enrolling a Child in an Approved Children’s Service

The person(s) who has lawful authority for a child (parent(s), legal guardian(s) or guardian(s)) can enrol a child at a children’s service, complete the enrolment form and sign the relevant authorisations pursuant to regulation 160 (3) (c) and (d) for Approved Children’s Services.

If there are any court orders in place relating to the powers, duties, responsibilities or authorities of any person(s) in relation to the child or access to the child, the Nominated Supervisor or the Responsible Person in Charge must ensure the details of the court order are recorded in the child’s enrolment record pursuant to regulation 160(c) and (d) for licensed children’s services.

The Educators should be familiar with any court orders and abide by them as they relate to the provision of care and education of the child at the service.

Entry Age for Kindergarten Programs

To be eligible to attend a funded kindergarten program in the year before school, children must be at least four years old by 30 April in their kindergarten year. Each child develops at their own rate and, although your child’s age may make them eligible to start kindergarten, other factors may impact on their readiness for such an experience.

To access Early Start Kindergarten, eligible children must be at least three years old by 30 April in the year they attend. To discuss your child’s kindergarten readiness you can talk to your maternal and child health nurse or your local kindergarten teacher.

Children cannot commence in a kindergarten program until they have had their 3rd birthday.

What to Look for When You Visit a Service
  • Do educators interact positively with children, other educators and parents?
  • Do educators make you and your child feel welcome?
  • Is this a safe environment for children to play, learn and develop?
  • If your child has additional needs, how will the service meet them?
  • Are the children well supervised at all times in a way that suits their age and development?
  • Are children engaged in the learning experiences?
  • Are the children well settled?
  • Are there opportunities for children to play in groups or alone?
  • Is the educational program run inside and outdoors?
  • Are there spaces for children to be involved in active, noisy play as well as space for quiet play?
  • Is the service clean and well maintained?
  • Does the equipment support the children’s educational program?
  • Is there enough equipment for the children?
  • Ensure the service has an anaphylaxis management policy
  • Is important information about the service and its educational programs displayed?
Kindergarten Programs

Attending a kindergarten program is an important step for your child. It will help your child learn skills they will build on throughout life, strengthening their enthusiasm for learning. At kindergarten, your child will grow socially and emotionally. Their ability to think, use and recognise language and to use their fine motor skills will be developed through play, art, dance, music, movement and interaction with others. Fine motor skills include the ability to handle and pick up small objects, transfer objects from hand to hand, and various hand-eye coordination tasks, such as cutting, drawing, writing or threading beads.

Most importantly, your child will be learning to be an engaged and effective learner as they develop and extend their communication skills; begin to understand social studies and science; develop skills that assist with reading, writing and mathematics; learn to be creative; and build self-confidence.

Attending kindergarten also provides families and carers with the opportunity to get to know other families. Through links to other local early childhood services kindergarten educators can help families to access a range of early years support services.

The Victorian Government provides funding to make kindergarten fees affordable so that all children have the opportunity to participate in a kindergarten program in the year before school. This is usually when they are four years old. Kindergarten services charge fees to contribute to the cost of operating the kindergarten program.

A Further Year of Kindergarten

In some cases, a child attending a kindergarten program may be assessed by the teacher to be eligible for a further year of a funded kindergarten program before they go on to school.

The teacher will discuss this assessment with you and this will assist you to make a decision about a further year. When this occurs, the child may turn six years of age (compulsory school age) while attending the second year of funded kindergarten and therefore must be exempted from attending school by the Department of Education and Training. Parents and guardians are responsible for seeking this exemption, however your child’s teacher can assist you with this.

Kindergarten Fee Subsidy

The Victorian Government kindergarten fee subsidy provides eligible families with access to 15 hours a week of kindergarten per week at no cost.

Your child is eligible for the subsidy if you or your child has:

  • A Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card or Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card or White Card
  • An Asylum Seeker Bridging Visa A–F
  • A Temporary Protection/Humanitarian Visa 447, 451, 785, or 786
  • A Refugee and Special Humanitarian Visa 200–217
  • A Resolution of Status (RoS) Visa, Class CD, Subclass 851

Or your child is an:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or
  • Triplets or quadruplets attending kindergarten in the same year.

The service applies on your behalf to the Department of Education and Training (DET) for the kindergarten fee subsidy, and can do so at any time of the year.

Early Childhood Education and Care Services

The Department of Education and Training is responsible for regulating Education and Care Services and Children’s Services. All education and care services and children’s services in Victoria are required to ensure that children are educated and cared for in an environment that is safe, meets their learning and development needs, and supports their health and wellbeing.

Services are required to employ educators with appropriate qualifications and provide educational programs based on children’s abilities, interests and experiences. Most services are required to construct learning environments based on an approved learning framework such as the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. For more information visit www.education.vic.gov.au

Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework

The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework describes the Principles, Practices and Outcomes essential to advance young children’s learning from birth to eight years of age.

The Framework supports and guides Early Childhood Professionals to work together, with children and with families to achieve the best outcomes for children. The Framework identifies five learning outcomes for children from birth to eight years:

  • Children have a strong sense of identity
  • Children are connected with and contribute to their world
  • Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
  • Children are confident and involved learners
  • Children are effective communicators.

Each learning outcome is targeted to develop the knowledge and skills children need to be confident and happy throughout their life.

Kindergarten Inclusion Support Packages (KIS)

Kindergarten Inclusion Support Packages provide support that enables children with high support needs and diagnosed disabilities to take part in funded kindergarten programs. The services aim to develop a sense of belonging and inclusion for all families and to respond to children and families’ individual needs.

They provide specialist training for kindergarten educators to enable a child with a diagnosed disability to take part in a kindergarten program. The service also provides additional resources and equipment, or an additional staff member within the service, to further support all children, as needed. An Information and Application Kit is available for families and kindergarten programs seeking support. To access the kit visit www.education.vic.gov.au/

Preschool Field Officer Program (PSFO)

The Preschool Field Officer Program supports the access and participation of children with developmental concerns and additional needs in kindergarten programs, who are usually not receiving support from Early Childhood Intervention Services or Kindergarten Inclusion Support Service Packages.

The program is run by Preschool Field Officers, who are highly qualified Early Childhood Professionals specialising in early childhood education and development. They support those services offering funded kindergarten programs by providing consultation, resources and advice to educators and families.

Any family with a child attending a government-funded kindergarten program with additional needs or a teacher working in a government-funded kindergarten program can access this service. A referral can be made by a parent or teacher. Referral forms can be obtained from your local early childhood service.

Kindergarten Certificate

A kindergarten certificate displayed at a children’s service will show that the kindergarten program at the service receives Victorian Government funding and is delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher. Look for this certificate, at the entrance to the service, when choosing a kindergarten or child care program for your child.

Choosing a Quality Children’s Service

As a parent or guardian, the safety, wellbeing and development of your child is most important to you.

Quality children’s services are those that provide valuable learning experiences with positive outcomes for children, while at the same time providing for the needs of their families.

These services are well equipped to cater for the individual needs of children and improve outcomes for children. The service must display a Service Approval Certificate at the entrance to the service and include any conditions, waivers, or exemptions that may apply to it.

The Kindergarten Certificate must be displayed if the service is providing a funded kindergarten program (please refer to page 7). Visiting a service is a good way to check for quality. It gives you the chance to see the service, observe the educators and children and to ask questions. Another quality check is to look on the ACECQA website and check what rating the service received for their National Quality Assessment rating, this is also displayed at the service www.acecqa.gov.au.

Questions You May Want to Ask Educators

How does the program meet the different needs, interests and experiences of all the children, and how will it be shared with me?

  • How will my child’s learning be shared with me?
  • What qualifications do the educators have?
  • If my child is accepted at the service, which room or group will they be in?
  • How many children are in that room or group? How old are they? How many educators will work with them?
  • Will the same educators consistently care for my child?
  • How will my child be settled into the service?
  • What happens if my child becomes unwell, upset or unsettled?
  • How can parents become involved?
  • Am I welcome to visit at any time of the day?
  • What are the arrangements for providing food and drink for children?
  • What are the sleeping/rest arrangements for children?
  • What are the arrangements for administering medication?
  • How will any of my concerns about my child’s care be addressed?
Things to Do Before Your Child Starts an Early Childhood Program
  • Visit the service and talk with your child’s teacher
  • Read the service’s website, if it has one
  • Share your concerns, thoughts and ideas about your child openly with the teacher before and after your child begins attending
  • Find out what your child will need to bring
  • Put your child’s name on all belongings and clothing
  • Pack a change of clothes for your child
  • Talk to your child about what to expect
  • Develop a routine, including a goodbye routine
  • Provide the teacher with necessary information about your child, especially medical and special needs
  • Provide information about your child’s immunisation status
  • Keep the teacher informed of changes in your child’s life that might affect your child’s experience at their service.
Education and Care Programs - Long Day Care

Long day care is the term used for centre-based child care services. Long day care services provide care and education for children on an all-day or part-time basis. Programs are provided mainly for children aged between birth and six years, although some services provide care for limited numbers of primary school-age children before and after school and during school holidays. Long day care services employ qualified staff and many services offer a funded kindergarten program.

Kindergarten Fees

Victorian Government funding contributes to the cost of a service providing 15 hours per week.

Services usually charge parents a fee on a weekly, term or annual basis.

You will need to contact the services directly to determine the cost of the kindergarten program you are interested in.

Early Start Kindergarten (ESK)

Early Start Kindergarten provides eligible three year old children with access to kindergarten for up to 15 hours per week for free. It is available for three year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children known to Child Protection (including children referred from Child Protection to Child FIRST).

Children must be aged at least three years by 30 April in the year they attend.

A parent/carer, Child Protection, Family Services/ Child FIRST practitioner or Koori Engagement Support Officer need only advise about a child’s eligibility for Early Start Kindergarten. No supporting written documentation is required.

If your child is eligible for Early Start Kindergarten talk directly with the Central Enrolment Officer. Ask if they have a kindergarten place available for a three year old child. The service will then provide your child with a kindergarten program of up to 15 hours per week free of charge. For more information visit www.education.vic.gov.au

National Quality Framework

From 1 January 2012, the National Quality Framework applies to kindergartens, long day care, family day care and outside school hours care services across Australia. These services are now required to operate under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 and meet the new National Quality Standard.

Education and care services will be assessed and rated, with a focus on seven key quality areas of the National Quality Standard. These ratings will help parents make more informed choices about the education and care of their child.

For more information visit

http://education.gov.au/national-quality-framework-early-childhood-education-and-care

Assistance for Children with Additional Needs

The Victorian Government is committed to delivering an inclusive early childhood and school system that ensures that all families and their children have access to quality services and support to meet their needs – no matter what your family’s circumstances or background.

This includes families whose children have diagnosed disabilities and developmental delays, and refugee and asylum-seeker families.

The following programs respect your family’s individuality and help develop connections with the community that will encourage your child’s learning, development and wellbeing in the early years.

Early childhood early intervention (NDIS)

The Early Years are critical for the long-term health and development of all children, including children with disabilities and developmental delays.

The ECEI approach supports children aged 0-6 years who have a developmental delay or disability and their families/carers. The ECEI approach supports families to help children develop the skills they need to take part in daily activities and achieve the best possible outcomes throughout their life.

The NDIS has engaged Early Childhood Partners around Australia to deliver the ECEI approach. Early Childhood Partners are experienced in providing early childhood intervention.

To find out more information please visit www.ndis.gov.au/ecei

Please click here for the Early Childhood Early Intervention Brochure

https://www.ndis.gov.au/html/sites/default/files/Early-childhood-Early-Intervention.pdf

Maternal Child Health 3.5 Year Old Assessment

If your child has had their third birthday and has not yet turned five, it is recommended that you have your child attend the Maternal Child Health Nurse for a 3 1/2 year old assessment (this assessment is not compulsory).

At this consultation your toddler’s growth, health and development will be reviewed and your nurse will give you information about starting kindergarten. Your toddler will also be given a vision screening.

This consultation will focus on:

  • family health and wellbeing
  • healthy eating
  • how to take care of your child’s teeth
  • sun protection and water safety
  • improving communication, language and play
  • Immunisations

Other areas you might want to talk about:

  • your parent evaluation of development status (PEDS) questions in the My Health and Development Record
  • kindergarten enrolment.

Please tell the nurse if your child is:

  • not talking clearly
  • not able to talk in sentences
  • not coming to you for affection or comfort
  • not playing imaginary games
  • not playing with other children
  • not drawing

Key Points to Consider When Enrolling

Preferences Only nominate the kindergartens you are willing to accept. Children not placed at their first preference may be offered a position at another service.
All kindergartens have a limited number of places available.
Some kindergartens may have a high number of applications due to their location.
If you indicate less than five preferred services, you limit placement options.
Parent/Legal Guardian Name All correspondence will be sent to the Parent or Legal Guardian. Please provide a valid email address, as this is our preferred method of communication.
Incomplete Applications No application will be processed without current Immunisation History Statements and application fee OR concession card details.
Letter of Offer response times Families must accept or reject an offer of a kindergarten or prekindergarten placement in writing/email to Central Enrolments within 10 days. If a family cannot receive letters of offer at the end of July they should notify CES as soon as possible. It is your responsibility to inform CES if you are not available to receive letters of offer
Where a family has been offered a place and not responded through three separate allocations, the application will be withheld from further placement until the family contacts the Central Enrolment Officer.
Concession Attach a photocopy of your current concession card.
Please note that you will be required to supply a copy of your concession card to different departments eg Enrolments and Finance.
Indigenous Additional funding can be provided to kindergartens to support children of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture. If your child is from one of these cultures, please tick the box.
Support
Additional Needs    Children with developmental delays or disabilities can be supported in transition to kindergarten if information about their individual needs is provided. Additional funding may be available to support children with additional needs.
Contact Details (Address, phone, email) Notify Central Enrolments of any changes to your contact details immediately. Failure to do so may result in a loss of placement. (If moving, please provide new address and approximate time of moving e.g. day/month/year if known.)
Agreed Process All Services involved in the Central Enrolment System follow the same agreed placement rules and guidelines.
Policy Full details of the allocation process can be found in the Central Enrolment System Policy, located on the LMPA website. www.lmpa.org.au 
Submitting your enrolment application Please return the Enrolment Application Form and other documentation:
By Registered or Express Post: Central Enrolment System, C/- Loddon Mallee Preschool Association, 53 Wills Street, Bendigo VIC 3550
By email: enrolments@lmpa.org.au     
In person: LMPA, 53 Wills Street, Bendigo VIC 3550

 

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