What is The Difference Between Preschool and Kindergarten?

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In Australia, childcare is often referred to as Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC. It is a program typically available for kids aged from 6 weeks to 6 years old.

However, a lot of parents are not as informed about the difference between preschool and kindergarten. The truth is that it all entirely depends on which state you live in. Both programs are meant to help your child in transitioning to full-time school. 

While both play a crucial role in a child's developmental journey, they cater to different age groups and have distinct objectives, curriculum frameworks, and learning outcomes.

Let's delve into the key differences and what each stage offers.

Age Group and Enrollment


In NSW, preschool typically caters to children aged 3 to 5 years old. It is designed as a preparatory stage before formal schooling begins, focusing on early learning and socialisation. Children can attend preschool for two years, depending on when they start, and attendance patterns can vary from a few hours to full days, depending on the centre and parental preference.


Kindergarten marks the beginning of formal education in NSW and is intended for children who turn 5 years old by July 31 of the year they start. Kindergarten is compulsory, and children are expected to attend school five days a week during the regular school hours.

Educational Focus and Curriculum


The curriculum in NSW preschools is guided by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) of Australia, emphasising play-based learning. The focus is on developing children's social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills through structured play, activities, and interactions. The goal is to nurture curiosity, resilience, and a sense of belonging and community.


Kindergarten in NSW follows the more structured Australian Curriculum or the NSW syllabus, focusing on foundational literacy and numeracy skills alongside personal and social capabilities. The learning is more structured compared to preschool, with a clear emphasis on preparing children for the subsequent years of schooling.

Learning Environment and Class Structure


Preschools in Sydney often operate within standalone centres, community venues, or as part of long day care services. The environment is designed to be nurturing and stimulating, with a higher staff-to-child ratio to support individual attention and care. Activities are diverse, ranging from arts and crafts to storytelling and outdoor play, all structured around the child's interests and developmental needs.


Kindergarten classes are held within primary schools, providing children with an environment that resembles formal schooling. This setting helps in familiarising children to the school routine, uniforms, and the larger school community. The teacher-to-student ratio is generally lower than in preschool, reflecting the shift towards more structured learning and self-directed activities.

Outcome and Progression


The completion of preschool is not marked by formal assessments or outcomes. Instead, educators focus on ensuring that children have developed a love for learning, confidence in social settings, and foundational skills that will support their transition to formal schooling.


In kindergarten, children's progress is more formally monitored, with assessments that inform parents about their child's development in key learning areas. Successfully completing kindergarten is crucial, as it sets the stage for Year 1 and beyond, building on the literacy and numeracy skills critical for future academic success.

Choosing the Right Path

For parents in Sydney, NSW, deciding between preschool and kindergarten involves considering the child's age, developmental stage, and readiness for formal education. Preschool offers a gentle introduction to the world of learning through play and social interaction, while kindergarten establishes the foundation for academic learning and school life. Both stages are vital, each serving a unique purpose in a child's educational journey.

Understanding these differences helps parents make informed decisions about their child's early education, ensuring a smooth transition from home to preschool and then to kindergarten, laying a solid foundation for lifelong learning.

Finding the best kindergarten or daycare serviceKinde

Give your child the best start in their wonderful years. Explore our child care services at Wonder Years and embark on a journey of joyful learning and discovery. We are conveniently located nearby Hornsby, Dural, Castle Hill, Westleigh, and West Pennant Hills

Call us today at (02) 9484 2595 to book a tour!

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