When to start kindergarten

Most children start kindergarten in the year before school, usually when they are four years old.

This is sometimes called a "15 hour program" or "funded kindergarten". The government will help the kindergarten with the cost of your child attending for 15 hours each week. This helps keep your kindergarten fees low.

Subsidised kindergarten can be in:

  • children’s centres
  • long day care centres
  • community kindergartens
  • independent schools
  • some government schools.

Starting early

Funded Three-year-old Kindergarten is being introduced in stages. It will start in 2020 and 2021 in some council areas. In 2022, five hours per week of subsidised kindergarten will be available across the rest of the state.

Some services already offer kindergarten for three-year-old children. Read about the types of kindergarten to find options. In most cases, these programs are not subsidised.

Gifted children may also start kindergarten early.

Finishing later

Sometimes your child might need a second year of kindergarten if they have a developmental delay.

You need to seek an exemption from school if your child turns six before, or while they're at funded kindergarten.

Benefits of kindergarten

​Kindergarten is an important step for young children. We strongly recommended all children go to kindergarten.

Research has shown that:

  • early education helps set children up for a bright future
  • attending two years of quality kindergarten has even greater benefits
  • at kindergarten children learn skills that they'll take with them throughout their life.

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 move to primary school.

What your child learns

Kindergarten programs are delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher. They're designed to improve your child’s development in:

  • social skills, like how to play with other children in a calm, sharing and rewarding way
  • self-awareness and respect for others
  • emotional skills, for example understanding their feelings
  • language, literacy and numeracy skills, such as reading stories and counting objects
  • a joy for learning and group activities, such as talking, drawing and making things together with other children their own age
  • ability to make new friends
  • exposure to new ideas and concepts.

Kindergarten also gives families:

  • opportunities to meet other families and make community connections
  • access to support for children with special needs
  • access to other community services.