At Gowrie, we offer both three- and four-year-old kindergarten programs across six services. These kindergarten programs are designed to meet government guidelines to support children’s participation in high quality early childhood education. Along with our current programs, Gowrie will be offering funded three-year-old kinder to families across our services from 2022.
What is a funded kindergarten program?
Kindergarten is an important step for your child. While kindergarten isn’t compulsory for Australian children, the Department of Education strongly recommends that all children attend a kindergarten program in the two years prior to starting school.
Research has shown that:
- Your child’s brain will develop faster in the first five years of life than at any other time.
- Early education helps set children up for a bright future.
- Attending two years of quality kindergarten has added benefits.
- At kindergarten, children learn skills that they’ll take with them throughout their life
Research shows that quality, play-based learning is a powerful way to support children’s learning and development. The benefits last into the school years and beyond. Kindergarten improves children’s health and wellbeing, helps them to develop strong social skills, and encourages a love of learning. Children who go to kindergarten are more independent and confident and are more likely to make a smooth transition to primary school.
Our kindergarten program fees are partially funded by the Victorian government, which helps Gowrie to keep fees low. The funding we receive contributes to the overall cost of running a kindergarten program.
What is the difference between an integrated kindergarten program and a sessional kindergarten program?
Gowrie offers a variety of long day childcare, integrated, and sessional kindergarten programs. We aim to support the different needs of families within each of our services, as well as our communities.
You can choose what works best for your family and children – the kindergarten programs are the same.
- All of our kindergarten programs are led by a qualified early childhood teacher and offer a play-based learning program.
- All our kinder programs are developed based on your child’s interests, strengths, and learning needs.
- All early years programs use the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework to guide learning outcomes, which is the curriculum for the early years of learning.
Essentially, the only differences between an integrated (long day care) program and a sessional program are the hours offered and the allocation of days within the timetable. Sessional kinder programs will only operate during school terms whereas integrated kinder programs operate for 50 weeks each year. We suggest that families decide on which type of kindergarten program best suits their family’s needs and individual circumstances.
The benefits of our integrated programs are that they follow on from previous education and care programs at the service. Our educators already know your child; this means we know their strengths, interests, and learning styles – making it easier for our educators to tailor a program that meets their individual needs. Your child will have already formed secure relationships with familiar educators and their learning journey can continue with us from birth right up until they go to school. Your child may have already formed friendships that will continue into their kinder experience.
What is the cost of attending a kindergarten program?
Sessional kindergarten fees are charged per term and the fee is dependent on the service you attend.
Families accessing an integrated kindergarten program may be eligible for Child Care Subsidy (CCS) which is a government subsidy to support families to pay integrated kindergarten fees.
When can my child start kindergarten?
For three-year-old pre-kindergarten your child must be three years old on or before 30th April in the year that they are to attend the program. If your child turns three after the kindergarten year starts, some of our programs may require a delayed attendance until the child’s third birthday.
A child is eligible to attend a four-year-old state-funded kindergarten program when they turn four on or before 30th April in the year before they attend school.
What is Early Start Kindergarten?
Early Start Kindergarten gives eligible children 15 hours of free or low-cost kindergarten per week for two years before starting school.
To be eligible, your child must be three by 30th April in the year they start kindergarten and meet one of the following criteria:
- Be from a refugee or asylum seeker background
- Identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
- Your family has had contact with Child Protection
Can my child attend more than one funded kindergarten program at the same time?
No. A child can only be enrolled to receive kindergarten funding at one kindergarten service. Families will confirm their acceptance of funding upon enrolment and further information will be provided on this.
If your child is attending more than one service, you will need to nominate which service you would like to accept funding for, and a signed nomination form will be completed upon enrolment.
Priority of Access and Eligibility for Enrolment
When offering kindergarten places at a service, Gowrie follows the Department of Education’s Skills and Employment Priority of Access Guidelines.
The priority levels are:
Priority 1- A child at risk of serious abuse or neglect, including children in out-of-home care
Priority 2- A child of a single parent or parents who satisfy the work/training/study test
Priority 3- Any other child
Within each priority area, priority is given to children in order, as follows:
- Children in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
- Children from asylum seeker or refugee families
- Children in families which include a disabled person with additional needs
- Children in families which include an individual whose adjusted taxable income does not exceed the lower income threshold set for a particular tax year by the Australian DET, or who or whose partner is on income support
- Children in families from a non-English speaking background
- Children in socially isolated families
- Children of single parents
What are the benefits of mixed age groups within a kindergarten program?
Gowrie provides multi-age groups in some services, which bring together children aged three to five years old offering a unique opportunity for learning and development. Educators adapt the curriculum and their teaching strategies to support individual children’s development and maximise the educational benefits for the group.
Mixed-age grouping supports younger children over time build their confidence as they engage and interact with children of the same age and older peers. Play across mixed age groups is often more complex as older children extend younger children’s ideas or younger children follow the ideas suggested and contribute to the play supporting language development.
What should we bring to kindergarten each day?
Please provide a clearly named bag to keep your child’s belongings, including the below items. Your child’s bag and belongings must go home at the end of each day. You should include a wide brimmed hat, a drink bottle, a spare change of clothes, a jacket, and beanie during the colder months.
Please apply sunscreen to your child before you sign into the program at the beginning of each session. The educators will support children to re-apply sunscreen as necessary throughout the day. SunSmart season is from 1st October to 31st March.
What is the Kindergarten Tick?
The Victorian Government now makes it easier for families to find funded and approved kinder programs. When you see a Kinder Tick, you can be sure that:
- The program is led by a qualified teacher.
- Children will benefit from play-based learning.
- The kindergarten program is funded and approved by the Victorian Government.
- The program complies with government guidelines and the National Quality Framework.
For more information about three-year-old kinder at Gowrie, fill in the enquiry form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.