Kindy vs Childcare – what are the key differences between these options?

This is a frequently asked question by working parents, and often the answer is not as simple as you might think. When showing new families our grounds at Kenmore District Kindergarten, they often say, that while childcare has some advantages in terms of the length of the day and what food/care items are provided, there are some big drawbacks to this type of care. The most frequently voiced complaints are:

  • That their child is not being “challenged” enough
  • They are often confused about who is “in-charge” at the Centre
  • Staff turnover is high
  • Their child does not settle well at drop-off
  • Their child is always falling ill
  • Their child is in a ‘Kindy program’ but there is not a qualified Kindy teacher present.

Having taught in both settings and having had children of my own go through both types of care – I have a good understanding of the differences between the two early learning settings and where families tend to see the most benefits. Spoiler alert in line with studies in this area Kindergarten tends to have many more advantages for children.

The Benefits of Kindergarten

  • Relationships – since Kindy has set days for each group you have the same children attending each program. This helps to facilitate good relationships with both the staff and the other children.
  • Community – with set start and finish times, families are also able to get to know each other at drop-off and pick-up and form their own community around the Kindergarten.
  • Structure – Kindy is more structured and has a regular daily routine so that children know what to expect each day.
  • Social – Community Kindergartens like Kenmore District Kindergarten will have several social events each year and which contributes to a tight-knit community feel. Some of the events we hold at our Kindy are Family BBQ’s, Family Fun Days and Christmas Pizza Evenings.
  • Involvement – Kindies are managed by a committee of parents so families enrolled are truly invested in their children’s education.
  • Stability – Kindy teacher and educator positions are well sought after, so there tends to be much lower staff turnover.
  • Local – Kenmore District Kindergarten has been in operation for over 60 years and has strong ties to the local community.
  • Nature – There tends to be a big focus on outdoor play at Kindergartens. At Kenmore District Kindergarten we have mature trees that provide a lot of shade, lush grass and space for children to run.
  • Activities – Many Kindy’s run speciality programs that are not available at childcare. We include Music, Sports and other special programs such as Forest Wildings School, visits from Bee Experts, Dentists and Fire fighters in our program so that children get exposed to a wide variety of activities.
  • Qualified – Kindy programs are run by degree-qualified teachers who provide higher quality experiences throughout the entire day.
  • Flexibility – Some Kindergartens such as Kenmore District Kindergarten, have adapted to meet working family needs. In 2021, families will have the option of sending their child to Kindy five days a week by choosing two 5-day-fortnight groups. With the introduction of aftercare, we have longer days available to families who need them.
  • Transition – Part of the focus of Kindergarten is school readiness. Therefore, many Kindies such as Kenmore District Kindergarten run a transition to school program and other excursions to local schools. Our relationship with Kenmore State School includes attending an Under-Eight’s day, Tuck-shop visits and use of the school’s environmental area.

Benefits of Childcare:

  • Most Childcare Centre’s operate on much longer days – usually the day is around 10 hours long which does give parents flexibility in drop-off and pick-up times.
  • Many childcare centres now cater meals and provide nappies/wipes to the younger children. This does help to alleviate some stress on the parents having to prepare meals but means that they have less control over what their children eat. Plus, we find that our children often take great pride in their lunchbox.
  • If you work long hours and have a child, with younger siblings also needing care, a childcare centre will mean they could both attend the same service.

Finally, we recognise the needs of working families and that often both parents are employed full-time. Some of our working families use childcare services until their child is the right age (3-5 years) and then they start at our Kindy. Many of our families have their children enrolled in both our Kindergarten program and at another childcare facility on separate days. These families often report back how happy they are with this mix of care and how they can see their children thriving. And wonderfully, we also hear that the children tend to prefer their Kindy days and miss their teachers on their “days off”. If you do decide on the combined option, please note that the government will only fund one Kindergarten program per child.

Article written by Alison Pechey.

Alison is the Nominated Supervisor and Educational Leader at Kenmore District Kindergarten. She has a Bachelor of Primary Education and a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. Alison has taught in Schools, Kindergartens and Early Education Centre’s in South Africa, England and Australia. She is a mother to two children and has an interest in learning about different cultures and is passionate about the creative arts.