There’s a lot to consider when deciding on the right kind of child care or kindergarten service for your child and family. While kindergarten is not compulsory for children in Queensland, it’s highly recommended to help them learn, develop life skills and prepare for school. It’s also a great place to make new friends.
Kindergartens operate under a range of models and it may surprise you to learn that not all kindergarten services are government approved. An approved kindergarten program must adhere to certain guidelines, and is:
- provided in the year before Prep (for children who turn 4 by 30 June in the year they start)
- provided for at least 15 hours a week for 40 weeks (the equivalent of a school year)
- play based
- delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.
Approved kindergarten programs can run as a stand alone service, called sessional kindergarten, or integrated in a long day care setting. To help you make the best choice for your child and family, this article highlights some of the differences between the kindergarten models, and looks at how kindergarten runs in a long day care setting.
What are the differences between sessional kindergarten and long day care kindergarten?
Both formats offer approved kindergarten programs and are delivered by qualified early childhood teachers and they cover exactly the same material, over the same period time. Teachers follow the approved kindergarten learning guidelines which are based on the curriculum and are play based.
The main difference between these two formats is that in a long day care setting, children attend the service for longer hours and receive child care outside the regular kindergarten hours. Sessional kindergarten follows a school hours schedule that runs from approximately 8.45 am to 2.45 pm, several days per week.
Benefits of long day care kindergarten
For many parents, the key benefit of kindergarten in a long day care setting is that children receive a full kindergarten program, but also receive care during the early morning, late afternoon or early evening. Most Catholic EarlyEd Care long day care services open by 7.00 am, and close around 6.00 pm. Many working parents find this more convenient as they would otherwise need to collect children at 2.45 pm when kindergarten finishes.
Another advantage of long day care kindergarten is that it continues to run throughout school holidays, whereas just like school, sessional kindergartens close for the school holidays. This allows parents to continue working, and children to have consistency in both carers and educators, as well as their friends, throughout the whole year.
Long day care can provide an approved kindergarten program with care for longer hours all in one daily fee, complete with access to child care subsidy for approved families.
"A key feature of long day care kindergarten is the sense of community that is created between the children and educators throughout the year."
Creating a sense of community
We see wonderful benefits in the relationships kindergarten children build with younger children at long day care, where they can socialise both within and outside of their kindergarten class. Often children have been together at the service for several years and have a clear bond with each other.
This brings leadership and mentoring opportunities for the kindergarten children, as they mix with the younger children at day care. We also see the younger children developing their social skills as they play with and learn from the older children.
While both sessional kindergarten and long day care kindergarten provide the same approved kindergarten program, delivered by qualified early childhood teachers, long day care kindergarten comes with some unique advantages.
Whether you need child care outside of regular kindergarten hours or during school holidays, kindergarten in a long day care setting provides this flexibility, along with child care subsidies for approved families. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to foster a deep sense of community as children learn and grow together throughout the year.
The early years of education and care are the foundation for every child’s future. At Catholic Early EdCare, we help your child to grow and develop every day from six weeks of age. Find out more about our kindergarten and long day care program on our website.