Kindergarten for 4-Year-Olds

Kindergarten for 4-year-olds is being phased in gradually in schools across the province. It is not compulsory. Opening up more spaces in kindergarten for 4-year-olds makes a broader range of educational services available throughout Québec. 

Every child is unique and has individual needs. By respecting the pace of each child and intervening to meet the needs of the child, kindergarten for 4-year-olds fosters a smooth transition to school. Its objective is to support children as they start school. To do this, children are given a chance to learn, understand and become familiar with the school environment, to believe in their own abilities and to develop the competencies they will need to facilitate their transition to kindergarten for 5-year-olds and eventually to first grade. This is why all children in the appropriate age bracket are eligible for full-time kindergarten for 4-year-olds. Interactions take place between children of the same age in a group consisting of no more than 17 students.

Educational program

The Preschool Cycle Program, intended for children who attend kindergarten for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds, aims to foster the global development of all children by taking preventive action to meet their needs. Play is at the heart of learning.

Children learn in ways that enable them to express themselves, try new things, organize their thoughts and develop their understanding of the world around them. It also cultivates their enjoyment of learning.

The Preschool Cycle Program is in line with Meeting Early Childhood Needs This hyperlink will open in a new window., the educational program for childcare services, and with the Québec Education Program This hyperlink will open in a new window..

A teacher is present full-time with the child. They are assisted by an additional person who is present in the classroom half-time. This person is specialized in the development of young children and may, for example, be a special education technician or an early childcare educator.

If necessary, a team of professionals may also support the teachers and the children to meet their needs.

Kindergarten for 4-year-olds also welcomes the family of the child. Meetings are offered to parents whose children are in full-time kindergarten for 4-year-olds to establish an educational collaboration that is beneficial to the child.

Typical day

The teacher plans activities that are tailored to the children’s level of development, as well as their interests, needs and abilities. 

Here is an example of a typical day in kindergarten for 4-year-olds:

  • Arrival
    • Some children arrive by school bus, while others arrive with their parents. They are greeted at the school’s daycare service or by their teacher.
  • Reception (15 to 20 minutes)
  • Circle time (around 25 minutes)
  • Snack time (around 15 minutes)
  • Story time (around 15 minutes)
  • Learning centres (20 to 30 minutes)
  • Free play (45 to 60 minutes, continuous)
  • Outdoor play (15 to 30 minutes)
  • Lunch (50 minutes minimum)
  • Some children have lunch at home or with a guardian. Others are picked up from school and dropped off at the school’s daycare service or lunch service, where an adult looks after them. Return to class
  • Nap time
    • The duration of nap time may vary depending on the period of the school year and the needs of the children.
  • Snack time (around 15 minutes)
  • Story time (around 15 minutes)
  • Group activity (around 15 minutes)
  • Free play (45 to 60 minutes, continuous)
  • Departure
    • Some children leave by school bus. Others are taken to the school’s daycare service, where their parents pick them up.

Classroom organization

The classroom for kindergarten for 4-year-olds is physically adapted to the needs of all children. Both easily accessible and safe, it fosters the participation of everyone. It should allow children to develop and learn in the following areas:

  • Physical and motor: Increases physical and motor development
  • Emotional: Builds self-awareness
  • Social: Maintains harmonious relationships with others
  • Language: Communicates using oral and written language
  • Cognitive: Discovers the world around them

In addition, the teacher organizes the different areas in order to:

  • Respect the children’s pace of learning
  • Build on and enrich the children’s experiences and prior learning
  • Promote interactions among the children and between each child and the adult
  • Take into account the child’s progress

Moreover, the schoolyard is also an environment where children can play, thrive and feel safe with the materials adapted to their needs.

School daycare services

Children who attend kindergarten for 4-year-olds can also attend their school’s daycare services outside of school hours. If this service is available, the school establishes the terms and conditions governing such services.

During the summer months, parents can benefit from a range of services adapted to preschool children. The school may offer such services on its own terms and conditions, if the number of enrolments permits it. In addition, many towns and municipalities offer diverse and affordable services. Please consult the website of your child’s school or municipality for more information.


You can now enrol your child for the Kindergarten for 4-Year-Olds program. To be eligible, your child must be at least 4 years old on September 30 of the school year in question.

Since the Kindergarten for 4-Year-Olds program is being phased in gradually, school service centres and school boards may set additional enrolment criteria when the number of applications exceeds the number of available spaces.

For more information, please contact your school service centre or school board.

Find your school service centre or school board This hyperlink will open in a new window. (available in French only).

Last update: October 17, 2023


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