By Raising Children Network
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Your child develops and learns more in their first five years than at any other stage of life. Attending preschool can enhance and encourage your child’s incredible development. It can also meet your child's increasing need for stimulation.

At preschool (also known as kindergarten) children:

  • acquire new knowledge and skills, including those for early literacy and numeracy through play and other activities with peers
  • extend their communication skills and vocabulary through interactions with others
  • develop responsibility and independence from taking part in the routines of the program
  • learn social skills such as listening and respecting the ideas of others, sharing and handling conflicts with peers
  • build confidence and feel a sense of self-worth and self-awareness
  • develop new relationships with adults
  • make new friends.

Children can attend preschool when they are four years old, or in the year they turn four. Some preschools also offer programs for three-year-olds – these are much shorter days than traditional four-year-old programs.

Your child will have the chance to join lots of art activities, and sing and make music. Your child will learn to be independent and to manage new tasks like looking after his own snack and bag. Preschool can also improve your child's blossoming social skills.

There may be a fee to attend preschool, as government funding doesn’t cover all the operating costs.

What happens at preschool?

Preschool is all about learning through play and structured activities.

Whether it's finger painting, building a block castle, or singing with other kids, preschool will help your child increase their experiences and knowledge. Most pre-schools also offer open-ended activities which allow your child to develop at his own pace.

Indoor activities could include:

  • painting and pasting
  • clay or dough play
  • puzzles and games
  • blocks and construction
  • books and sensory activities.

Outdoor activities could include:

  • play in the sandpit
  • exploring a natural landscape
  • carpentry
  • water play
  • dramatic play
  • swings and climbing equipment.

Group times may include:

  • stories and poetry
  • dancing and singing
  • playing with musical instruments
  • drama and acting
  • show and tell.

What kind of preschools are there?

In Australia there are several different types of preschool and kindergarten, including:

  • Sessional preschool: includes programs ranging from two-and-a-half hours to five hours a day, a few days a week. Programs are run by an early childhood teacher with the help of an assistant.
  • Long-day preschool: runs for an entire day and includes a lunch program.
  • Before-and-after care programs: for parents who need child care support in the time before or after preschool usually starts.
  • Steiner, Montessori and Reggio Emilia preschools: includes programs based on individual philosophies of children’s learning abilities. The program models and hours vary.
  • Three-year-old groups: may be an activity group run by a trained coordinator or a kindergarten run by a qualified teacher.

Most preschools operate in purpose-built facilities and are managed by a volunteer parent committee of management. But other preschools are run within long-day care centres, as part of a church group, or by local governments, state schools or independent schools.

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  • Last Reviewed 08-05-2006