By Raising Children Network
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Preschooler boy playing with colour blocks image
Your child develops and learns more in her first five years than at any other stage of life. Preschool can enhance and encourage your child’s amazing development. Preschool can also meet your child’s increasing need for stimulation.

About preschool

At preschool (also known as kindergarten) children:

  • get new knowledge and skills, including skills for early literacy and numeracy, through play and other activities with peers
  • improve their communication skills and vocabulary through interactions with others
  • develop responsibility and independence from taking part in the routines of the preschool 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 go to preschool when they’re four years old, or in the year they turn four.

Some preschools in some states also offer programs for three-year-olds – these are much shorter days than traditional four-year-old programs. Some long day care or child care centres offer a preschool program run by a qualified early childhood teacher.

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 might be a fee to attend preschool, because government funding doesn’t cover all the operating costs.

What happens at preschool?

Preschool is all about learning through play and structured activities.

Whether your child is finger painting, building a block castle, or singing with other kids, preschool will help your child increase her experiences and knowledge. Most preschools also offer open-ended play activities that allow your child to develop at her own pace.

Indoor activities could include:

  • painting and pasting
  • clay or playdough 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 could 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 preschools and kindergartens:

  • Sessional preschools: these offer 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 preschools: these programs run for an entire day and include a lunch program.
  • Before-and-after care programs: these are for parents who need child care support in the time before or after preschool usually starts.
  • Steiner, Montessori and Reggio Emilia preschools: these offer programs based on individual philosophies of children’s learning abilities. The program models and hours vary.
  • Three-year-old groups: these programs might include 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, independent schools or private companies.

  • Last updated or reviewed 01-09-2014