Early Learning programs

Our programs are developed in accordance with the National Quality Framework. All our Early Learning Centres in Victoria also follow the Victorian Early Years Learning & Development Framework.

Our Long Day Care and Kindergarten programs provide high quality education and child care specifically designed to nurture your child's interests, skills and abilities. Kindergarten includes both Integrated Kindergarten and at a few of our locations we offer Sessional Kindergarten.

Our Early Learning Centres offer:

Long Day Care (for six weeks to five year olds)

Enrolling your child at a YMCA Early Learning Centre gives them the opportunity to enjoy making new friends, discover more about their world and provide a safe space to explore and be adventurous! Everyday our YMCA Early Learning Programs educators deliver tailored, age appropriate and exciting activities in an environment that supports your child’s holistic development (physical, personal, social, emotional, spiritual and cognitive). Our integrated holistic approach to teaching and learning also focuses on connections to the natural world and instills curiosity, allowing children to learn naturally and creatively. We provide all meals and healthy snacks, nappies and linen.

Kindergarten (for three and four year olds).

Integrated and Sessional Kindergarten programs… what's the difference?

Integrated Kindergarten

A fun year of holistic learning and adventure awaits! Your child will participate in engaging activities and experiences such as expressing their creativity through music and art, learning about science and technology, and developing fundamental life skills such as team work and communication. Integrated Kindergarten is integrated as part of long day care. Our Kindergarten teachers foster a growth mindset with program delivery which supports a smoother transition to school.

Sessional Kindergarten (at select locations)

As the name suggests, Sessional Kindergarten refers to the session times the Kindergarten program occurs. Parents can choose to send their child to a session for a few hours a day, as opposed to Long Day Care. The program operates for 15 hours a week, typically delivered over two or three days, with predetermined start and finish times.

Sessional Kindergarten is offered based on local community needs in partnership with local government. We're proud to facilitate this service in Bendigo, Derrimut and Mernda.

For more information about kinder programs in Victoria, visit  the Victorian Government website.

  • Types of play

    Children learn best through play, discovery and self-initiated learning. Everyday our YMCA Early Learning Programs educators deliver tailored, age appropriate and exciting activities in an environment that supports your child’s holistic development.

    Our programs support your child’s learning through:

    Child initiated learning

    By supporting your child’s ideas and interests, we provide them with opportunities to guide their own learning. It not only helps them feel valued and promotes their individuality, it also enhances their communication skills and enthusiasm for learning.

    Learning through play

    Through play, your child will organise and make sense of their world while being engaged with people, their environment and a variety of tools that support different learning outcomes. Your child will develop greater cognitive and social skills which improves their self-confidence to explore new experiences alongside their peers and educators.

    Risk-based play

    We offer opportunities for your child to explore and test their capabilities in a safe environment. We empower them to be more daring, develop new skills and have a 'give it a go' attitude. Risk-based play supports your child’s resourcefulness, resilience and confidence to continually try new experiences.

    Nature play and environmental appreciation

    Being able to get outside and explore nature is a big part of childhood. Exposure to nature is essential to your child’s health and wellbeing by encouraging their creativity and discovering the wonder of flora and fauna in their world. We also make an effort in our daily routines to help children understand how their actions impact the environment. It’s important for children to understand how they can be responsible citizens of the earth with simple everyday choices.

    Indoor / outdoor play

    All the rooms in our centres open out to an outdoor play space. We aim to keep these doors open most times of the day, which gives your child the chance to explore freely, build on their interests and make connections with their environment.

    Messy play

    Messy play gives children the opportunity to delve into materials such as sand, water, chalk, paint, playdough and paste in an exploratory and unrestricted way. Sensory experiences enable your child to understand how things feel, smell and taste while supporting their physical development, curiosity, imagination, experimentation and concentration.

    Remember, when your child is engaged in messy play they may come home a little messy but are sure to have a smile on their face!

  • Physical literacy

    Children who are active on a daily basis are more likely to be a healthy weight, develop stronger bones, achieve greater academic success and experience better mental health with less susceptibility to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Importantly, active children are more likely to become active adults, resulting in lifelong benefits for health and wellbeing.

    You can find out more about physical literacy in our family handbook.

  • Incursions and excursions

    Excursions, incursions and special events

    To enrich and complement the educational program, from time-to-time excursions and special events may be arranged. These provide an opportunity for children to further explore their world and the diversity of learning opportunities that are available. Parent participation and involvement is always encouraged and welcomed. Risk assessments are conducted to determine the appropriate safety measures required for the event; this includes child staff ratios, mode of transport, potential hazards and medications. These assessments are made available for consideration prior to the event.

  • Food and nutrition

    If your child has particular dietary needs, please inform the educators of their requirements. It is important that the educators are informed in writing and up to date on any allergy or food requirements for your child. Many children attending our programs have specific food restrictions due to medical conditions, cultural or religious beliefs. 

    Healthy, nutritious food is essential in supporting a child’s ability to be attentive, have sufficient energy for active play and experience balanced moods. Our centres provide meals and snacks, prepared fresh daily by our qualified in-centre cook. We use fresh seasonal produce, with many herbs coming from our own gardens.

    Our menus are updated seasonally with an emphasis on seasonal freshness and are created in line with the Healthy Together Achievement Program and YMCA’s Healthy Food and Beverage Policy. We can cater for almost all dietary requirements including allergies, cultural and religious preferences.

    Establishing a good relationship with food and learning healthy habits early, children benefit from more than just nutritious meals. We infuse food education into our programs by providing opportunities for positive interactions such as cooking, growing herb gardens and collecting eggs from our chickens where applicable.

    Please note that all of YMCA Children’s Programs aim to be nut safe, so food from outside the centre is not permitted.

You can find out more about our programs (including information on our educators, nutrition in our Early Learning Centres) in our family handbook.