Kindergarten (sometimes called 'preschool') is an education program taught by qualified early childhood teachers.
Your child can attend kindergarten at:
- a stand-alone kindergarten
- a long day care (childcare centre)
- an independent school.
Your child can go to kindergarten in the 2 years before they start primary school. Most kindergartens deliver their 3-year-old and 4-year-old programs during the 4 Victorian school terms and usually run over 40 weeks. Some kindergartens in long day care may offer programs throughout the year.
Attending kindergarten has many benefits:
- support a smooth transition to primary school
- enhances children’s health and wellbeing
- helps them to develop social skills and other important skills for life.
It is even more important for children who need extra support or are in vulnerable circumstances.
In line with the school starting age in Victoria, children born between January and April can start school at four years of age. This will mean that some children will be two years old when their Three-Year-Old Kindergarten year starts.
If you are enrolling your child in 2 years of kindergarten before starting school, your child must be 3 years of age on or before 30 April to attend 3-year-old kindergarten in that year. Most kindergartens will require your child to be 3 years of age before they start attending kindergarten.
If you choose to only enrol your child in 4-year-old kindergarten, it is best that they attend the year before they start school.
Some children have a choice about what year to start kindergarten
Most kindergartens will require your child to be 3 years old before they start attending kindergarten, unless the service has enough staff to cover the required ratios.
Use our kindergarten dates calculator to help you figure out your options and add important enrolment dates to your calendar.
Your child has to be 3 years old on or before 30 April to be eligible to attend 3-year-old kindergarten in that year. Your child’s place will be held until they turn 3 years old and fees will only apply once they can start attending.
If your child is born between 1 January and 30 April, your child can begin 3-year-old kindergarten in the year they turn 3 or 4.
If a child turns 3 between January and April and does not attend from the beginning of the kindergarten year, services must waive parent fees for this period. Any deposits charged must be offset against fees once the child starts kindergarten.
You can choose to only attend one year of kindergarten before starting your child at school.
If you do this, your child must be 4 years of age on or before 30 April to be eligible to attend 4-year-old kindergarten in that year.
If your child is born between 1 January and 30 April, your child can begin 4-year-old kindergarten in the year they turn 4 or 5.
How do you know your child is ready for kindergarten?
Children develop and learn in different ways. Talk to your Maternal and Child Health nurse or qualified early years teacher to help you decide. Kindergarten open days also provide a great opportunity to talk things through with an experienced professional.
The Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) has resources to help you decide when to start kindergarten.
Your child must be vaccinated before they can go to kindergarten. This is required under the Victorian Government's 'No Jab, No play’ legislation. You must present an up-to-date Immunisation History Statement (IHS) when you enrol in kindergarten, childcare or school.
Learn how to access your child's Immunisation History Statements.
Use our immunisation calculator to see when your child is due for their vaccinations and add those dates to your calendar.
Quality and safety
Kindergartens and childcare services are regulated and assessed under the National Quality Framework. This makes sure they meet quality and safety standards and can work to improve outcomes for children.
Find out more about the regulation of kindergartens in Victoria on the Victorian Government website.