What is Pre-School?
In Victoria, the funded preschool program is a one year program in the year prior to school entry. The Government’s commitment is to ensure that all children aged four years in the year prior to school entry have the opportunity to access one year of quality preschool education. Three year old preschool also exists, but these programs are unfunded.
Funded preschool programs operate in a range of settings including purpose built stand alone preschools, community based and private child care centres, community halls and state and independent schools.
Three year old preschools operate in the same facilities as the four year old programs. As previously mentioned these programs are unfunded which results in the fees being higher.
Preschool is important because it provides developmentally appropriate programs that further the social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical development of children. International and Australian research shows that participation in a preschool program helps children establish foundations to assist them for life.
Preschool participation helps to identify children who need extra support for their development, and offers the appropriate links to ensure children receive this assistance as early as possible.
The preschool environment also provides an opportunity for families to develop links within their communities and become more aware of support services.
Why is Pre-school important?
Research shows that learning in the early years lays the foundation for later learning and sets children on a path for school, work and life.
Your child will greatly benefit from attending a preschool program before they go to school.
In a preschool program, families and staff work together to provide important learning experiences for children.
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 preschool 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 in a preschool program cater to individual needs and offers equipment, which is appropriate to the children’s stage of development.
Is my child ready for Pre-School?
Most preschools will start accepting children after their 3rd birthday, but that doesn’t mean your child is magically ready for preschool when he/she reaches that age. Readiness for preschool has more to do with where your child is developmentally. Is he/she socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively ready to participate in a daily, structured, educational program with a group of other children?
Though it’s tempting to look for a quick answer to this question, to read a list of skills for instance, and say, “Yes my child can do these things, he/she is ready,” that method isn’t foolproof. The best way to decide is to spend time thinking about your child and to talk to other people who know him/her well, such as your partner, your pediatrician, or your child’s caregiver. The following questions will help you think about the most important factors for preschool readiness.
Is your child fairly independent?
Preschool requires children to have certain basic skills, most will want your child to be toilet trained, for instance. Your child should also be able to take care of some other basic needs, like washing his/her hands after painting and eating his/her lunch without assistance.
Has he/she spent time away from you?
If your child has been cared for by a babysitter or a relative, he/she will be better prepared to separate from you when he/she is at preschool. Kids who are used to being apart from their parents often bounce right into preschool with hardly a backward glance. If your child hasn’t had many opportunities to be away from you, you might want to schedule some — a weekend with grandma for instance, or a day with your sister and her kids. But even if you can’t work out your separation issues up front, don’t worry too much, many children leave Mum or Dad for the first time to go to preschool and they do just fine.
Can he/she work on projects on his/her own?
Preschool usually involves lots of arts and crafts projects that require concentration and the ability to focus on an individual task. If your child likes to draw at home or gets engrossed in puzzles and other activities on his/her own, he/she is a good candidate for preschool. But even if he/she is the kind of child who asks for help with everything, you can start getting him/her ready by setting up play times where he/she can entertain him/herself for a half hour or so. While you wash the dishes, encourage him/her to make creatures out of clay for example. Gradually build up to longer stretches of solo play. Your goal here is to keep yourself moderately preoccupied with an activity so that he/she will get on with his/her own without too much hand-holding from you.
Is he/she ready to participate in group activities?
Many preschool activities, like “group time”, require that all the children in a class participate at the same time. These interactions give children a chance to play and learn together but also require them to sit still, listen to stories and sing songs. This can be very difficult for 3 year old’s who are naturally active explorers and not always developmentally ready to play with other children. If your child isn’t used to group activities, you can start introducing them yourself. Take him/her to story time at your local library for instance, or sign him/her up for a class such as tumbling to help get him/her used to playing with other children.
Is he/she used to keeping a regular schedule?
Preschools usually follow a predictable routine: group time, indoor time, snack and outdoor time. There’s a good reason for this. Children tend to feel most comfortable and in control when the same things happen at the same time each day. So if your child doesn’t keep to a schedule and each day is different from the last, it can help to standardise his/her days a bit before he/she starts preschool. Start by offering meals on a regular timetable. You could also plan to visit the park each afternoon or set — and stick to — a bedtime ritual (bath, then books and bed).
Does he/she have the physical stamina for Pre-school?
Whether it’s a half-day or full-day program, preschool keeps kids busy. There are art projects to do and playgrounds to explore. Does your child thrive on activities like this, or does he/she have trouble moving from one thing to the next without getting cranky? You can work toward building his/her stamina by making sure he/she gets a good night’s sleep.
Why do you want to send him/her to Pre-school?
Think carefully about what your goals are for sending your child to preschool. If you find that the main reasons you want to send your child to preschool are that he/she seems eager to learn new things and explore, he/she isn’t getting enough stimulation at home, or he/she seems ready to broaden his/her social horizons and interact with other children, chances are it’s the perfect time to start preschool.
What will my child learn?
At Pre-school your child will do many different things.
Your child will learn:
- social skills, for example, how to play together
- emotional skills, for example, how to understand their feelings
- play skills, for example, using blocks to build a road and play a game about it
- language and literacy skills such as reading stories, talking together, drawing and making things
- gross motor skills, for example, climbing and jumping
- fine motor skills, for example, using scissors
- art and craft, for example, using different paint brushes to make a picture
- dance, music and movement, for example, listening to music and clapping with the music
These skills will help your child for their whole life.
What type of Pre-school’s are available under the management of BPA?
BPA Pre-schools offer a variety of programs to cater for the individual needs of the community. All programs are planned and implemented by qualified Early Childhood staff. BPA preschools are purpose built and either Council or Church owned facilities.
Children can attend preschool for sessions lasting approximately 10 hours per week over a number of days, according to the type of program and the number of children registered at the Pre-school.
In this website the terms “Pre-school” and “Kindergarten” are interchangeable.