BCYF & Bethany have merged! Our two like-minded not-for-profit organisations are now Meli. Learn more

When to start kindergarten

Kindergarten starting ages are generally determined by the child’s date of birth, however families with children who were born between 1 January and 30 April have additional choices available to them.

When your child starts kindergarten relates to the age they will start primary school. When enrolling at three-year-old kindergarten, we encourage families to consider the age they would like their child to start at primary school.

Children cannot start kindergarten until they have had their 3rd birthday.

Use the calculator tool to determine when your child is eligible to start kindergarten.


When to apply for kindergarten

To ensure your child can enrol in three-year-old kindergarten it is important to apply the year prior.

While they still might seem little, it is important to begin planning for their education journey.

More info on the application process

Age eligibility information for kindergarten

With the introduction of free kindergarten in 2023, it is more important than ever for families to make an informed decision about when their child should start kindergarten.

Families can no longer elect for their child to undertake two years of three-year-old kindergarten.

Without exception, the Department of Education (DE) will only provide one year of three-year-old kindergarten and families cannot opt to pay for a second year. The DE guidelines state that a second funded year of four-year-old kindergarten can only be granted where a child has delays in at least two developmental areas.

Children who turn six at any time during the kindergarten year need to be exempt from attending school. Parents/guardians must complete an exemption form and attach any evidence with it. Exemption from school forms can be found by searching going to kindergarten if your child is six years old at www.education.vic.gov.au. You are required to provide a copy of your child’s exemption from school form with your child’s registration.

Important Information

We would like to ensure that families enrolling their children in three-year-old kindergarten, understand that the child must progress to four-year-old kindergarten the following year and then on to school.

Combined Groups

Meli offers up to 15-hours per week of first year (three-year-old) kindergarten. Some kindergarten groups will have only children in first year while others will have both first year AND second year (four-year-old) kindergarten children. These groups are referred to as multi-aged or combined groups.

Combined groups that bring together children aged three to five years old, offer unique opportunities for learning and development. In communities where children grow up in smaller families the benefits of learning from younger or older peers are even more significant.

In these groups all children are supported to access resources, materials and experiences that match their interests and skills as well as those that challenge them to extend their capabilities.

Read more about the benefits of combined groups here.

Meeting your family’s needs

Meli’s kindergarten programs are designed to meet the needs of local families. Educators adapt the curriculum and their teaching strategies to support children’s development and maximise the educational benefits for the group. Play spaces are designed to meet the needs of all the children in the group.

All Meli kindergarten programs are planned and delivered by qualified early childhood teachers using the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. This makes sure the programs are right for children’s ages. All Meli Kindergartens are Meeting or Exceeding the National Quality Standards for Early Childhood Education and Care.

Play Based Learning

Research shows that play-based learning is the best way to help young children learn, develop well and prepare to thrive at school. Play-based learning appeals to children’s natural curiosity and desire to engage in experiences based on their interests, strengths and developing skills as they make sense of their world around them.

Play-based learning provides opportunities for children to actively and imaginatively engage with people, objects and the environment. When playing, children may be:

  • organising
  • constructing
  • manipulating
  • pretending
  • exploring
  • investigating
  • creating
  • interacting
  • imagining
  • negotiating
  • making sense of their worlds.
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