What Is The Difference Between Kindy and Daycare

In the year before kids are due to start full-time school, the Australian Government ensures that all children have access to a quality early childhood education program. Whether you choose to enrol your child in such a program is entirely optional, yet it is widely believed that participating in a quality preschool program will help kids to begin their learning journey and better prepare for school.

Government-approved Kindergarten Programs

Most kindergartens and daycare centres offer a Government-approved kindergarten program, which is delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.

According to qld.gov.au: An approved kindergarten program is:

  • provided for children in the year before Prep (i.e. children who are 4 by 30 June in the year they start — see kindy age requirements).
  • provided for 15 hours a week for 40 weeks, or 1 school year.
  • play based.
  • delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.
  • non-compulsory.

The kindergarten program aims to help children to make friends, develop skills useful for life and develop a love of learning. To ensure a nationally consistent, quality program is offered, the Government has developed the Early Years Learning Framework. The Framework focusses on play-based learning, communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy), emotional and social development and transition to schooling. You can read more about the Early Years Learning Framework at mychild.gov.au.

The kindergarten program can be offered in independent kindergartens, kindergartens linked to schools or in long daycare centres.

Pre-Prep in Indigenous communities

There is also Pre-Prep, which is a kindergarten program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. It also takes place in the year before school and provides 15 hours a week for children 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years old in various communities. Visit deta.qld.gov.au for more information.


Another option is eKindy, which is a distance education kindergarten program for those who live in remote areas or cannot attend other services due to medical conditions or other situations. You can find out more at brisbanesde.eq.edu.au.

Kids in day care

The differences between the kindergarten and daycare program

While both kindergarens and daycare centres can offer Government-approved kindergarten programs, there are some differences between the services that may affect which you choose.


Here are the main facts about kindergartens, according to qld.gov.au. They are:

  • often not-for-profit organisations.
  • sometimes affiliated with schools.
  • for children who are at least 4 years of age by 30 June in the year they participate.
  • 3 days per week (5.5 hrs to 6 hrs per day) and 2 days at 7.5 hours minimum and sometimes run in similar formats across a 5 day fortnight period. 
  • allowed to have their own fee structure, each service may be different.
  • governed by legislative requirements including physical environment requirements (space, facilities and equipment) and staffing requirements (including minimum educator-to-child ratios).
  • May offer care before and after standard hours. 

You can read more about kindergarten services here.


Here are the main facts about daycare centres, according to qld.gov.au. They are:

  • usually open at least 10 hours a day each week day, for at least 48 weeks a year.
  • for children from birth up, although the kindergarten program is usually only offered for those in the pre-school year.
  • suitable for full-time or part-time care.
  • allowed to have their own fee structure, each service may be different.
  • governed by legislative requirements including physical environment requirements (e.g. space, facilities and equipment) and staffing requirements (including minimum educator-to-child ratios).

You can read more about long daycare services here.

Childcare centre

Which service is best for me?


If you are working and need your child looked after for long hours, then a daycare centre will probably be most suitable. Whereas if you are flexible and can fit with the shorter days of kindergartens, that may be a better option.


Kindergartens tend to operate on 3 days one week, 2 days the next, whereas daycare centres are usually open Monday to Friday. You may wish to ease your child gently into their learning journey with the 5-day fortnight kindergarten option, or you may like to have the option of enrolling them on any days which suit you in a daycare centre.


If you have a child with siblings also needing care, a day care centre would mean they could both attend the same service.


If you choose a daycare centre, your child can be there from birth and can do the pre-school kindergarten program without having to go somewhere new and different. If you choose a kindergarten that is affiliated with the school your child will attend, this can make the transition to school easier.

Other considerations

Other considerations, such as whether food is provided, what facilities and equipment is on offer, and so on, often depend on individual centres. You can contact your various options to find out.

Childcare centre

Finding the best kindergarten or daycare service

You can visit mychild.gov.au to find your local options for kindergarten or daycare services.

NOTE: Not all the services on mychild are Queensland Government-approved. It is recommended that you contact the Kindy Hotline on 1800 454 639 or call each service to check their program details and vacancies.


You can also read How to Identify a Quality Child Care Centre in Brisbane to guide you through choosing a suitable service.

You can also check out Childcare and Kindy Options in Brisbane for details of different services available in Brisbane.

About the Author
Ngaire Stirling
Owner and Founder of Brisbane Kids, Ngaire grew up in Brisbane and lives with her husband, 3 kids and too many animals. She has marketing and teaching qualifications focused on the early year of schooling. She loves long summer days, bright starry nights and working on Brisbane Kids.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Tell All Your Friends About This!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Keep Up To Date With Brisbane Kids!