What to look for in a Kindergarten
What Is Pre-School?
Four year old pre-school is the year prior to school entry where children are enrolled in an education based program focused on developing their skills, understanding and knowledge. Children are eligible for four year old pre-school if they are four by 30 April in the year that they will attend four year old pre-school.
The pre-schools in Whitehorse are purpose built and are managed by volunteer parent Committees of Management. Volunteer parent committees are actively involved in decision making about the operations of pre-school.
In this website the terms 'pre-school' and 'kindergarten' are interchangeable.
Do I Have To Pay For Pre-School?
Four year old pre-school attracts government funding, however, all pre-schools will charge fees for their service as government fundings do not cover the full operating cost. Fees will vary depending on many different factors such as hours of attendance and the size of groups and other additional costs. Each pre-school will have a fees policy that states the parent responsibilities in relation to the payment of fees.
Holders of health care cards or pension cards are entitled to a government rebate. This rebate is paid to the pre-school and passed onto the parent through a reduction in fees.
Why Should I Send My Child To Pre-School?
During the first five years, children develop and learn much faster than at any other age and pre-school provides them with an environment in which this development can be encouraged and stimulated. Preschool helps children become more aware of the world around them, and promotes language development, as well as intellectual, physical and emotional skills.
Activities at pre-school are based on play, which is the most important way children learn. The pre-school program caters to individual needs and offers equipment which is appropriate to the children's stage of development.
Is My Child Ready For Pre-School?
Some developmental considerations in relation to pre-school readiness are social, emotional, physical, language and cognitive.
As children begin pre-school, they are usually beginning to:
Interact in different social situations.
Play/work co-operatively with others.
Show awareness of waiting, sharing and taking turns.
Respond appropriately to rules, routines and limit setting.
Seperate comfortably from parents.
Learn about developing self control.
Show comfort with the support of an understanding adult.
Increase their confidence to move between paly spaces.
Show evidence of making own choices and decisions.
Develop independence with toileting and dressing.
Take some responsibility for own belongings.
Develop physical skills such as jumping, hopping, throwing and catching a ball, running, climbing, balance, beginning to use scissors and drawing implements and block building.
What Type Of Pre-School Is Available In Whitehorse?
Whitehorse pre-schools offer a variety of programs to cater for the needs of the community. All programs are planned and implemented by a qualified Early Childhood Educator with the help of an Assistant.
Children can attend pre-school for sessions lasting approximately 2.5 to 6 hours over a number of days a week, according to the type of program and the number of children enrolled at the pre-school.
Long Day Pre-School
Long day pre-school gives children the opportunity to attend pre-school for a longer period of time and includes a lunch program. The long day model has been developed to meet the needs of families who prefer longer blocks for various reasons.
Three Year Old Groups
All of the Whitehorse pre-schools offer three year old pre-school, which may be run by a qualified Early Childhood Educator or an activity group run by a trained co-ordinator. Three year old pre-school usually operates from 2 to 3 hours, once or twice a week. Three year old programs do not receive funding from the government and consequently is a fully user pay system.
Pre-school is not compulsory and not all children who apply will be successful in receiving a placement. Three year old pre-school is not government funded and limited places are available. Pre-schools provide more four year old places to ensure as many children as possible can access one year of funded pre-school in the year prior to commencing school.
Some pre-schools in Whitehorse offer a playgroup. Playgroups are run by parents who remain with their children. These groups encourage children to explore a broad environment, socialise with children their own age, and to communicate through play, songs and stories.
What Happens In Pre-School?
When your child goes to pre-school there will be lots of activities, experiences and time to play. Play in the young child's way of learning. All pre-school programs will be different, as they are planned around the individual needs of each child, as well as the group as a whole.
The Early Childhood Educator understands child development and knows how to assess each child's level of development. You may like to discuss with the educator how she or he does this.
What Does A Pre-School Program Include?
In most pre-schools, programs offer a variety of open-ended activities with carefully planned goals that encourage children to develop skills, as they are ready. The programs are planned to enhance physical, social, intellectual, language and emotional development.
These may include: painting and pasting, clay or dough, puzzles, games, blocks and construction, books and sensory activities. Most pre-schools also have a dramatic play area, which encourages social contact and role-playing. Children are generally invited to select their own activity and work at their own pace and will be helped by staff as necessary.
A successful outdoor playground is often quite simple - a natural landscape, which is full of sensory experiences offering a wide variety of responses and uses. In an outdoor play area you can expect to find a sand pit, a digging patch, a variety of climbing equipment, water play in various forms, swings, carpentry, or aids for dramatic play. Almost any activity offered indoors can also be offered outdoors-weather permitting.
The program will include group times, both indoors and outdoors. The groups may include all the children or just a few children and may involve a parent who is participating in the program. The group will include things like: stories and poetry, playing with musical instruments, dancing and singing, dramatisation and acting, and sharing important happenings with others.
Parents are a very important part of any pre-school program and should feel welcome to participate and contribute at all times. Parent participation is more than preparing the morning tea; it is about sharing in the education of all the children. The Early Childhood Educator will help the parents to become actively involved in the day to day program of the pre-school.
Active parent involvement in your child's pre-school years will have a positive benefit for both your child and your family.