If your child turns five in 2013, it's time to start thinking about applying to kindergarten. The Department of Education (DOE) will begin collecting kindergarten applications this month. Applications will be available at each school starting Jan. 22 and the deadline to submit an application is March 1. You must submit an application, even if you are applying to your zoned school.
Most students in the city go to their zoned elementary schools. However, a handful of schools may not have room for all the children in their zone. In that case, a lottery is held. Students who don't win seats are assigned to other schools nearby.
There are no zoned schools in District 1 (on the Lower East Side), District 7 (in the South Bronx) and District 23 (in Ocean Hill Brownsville). In these districts, parents must rank schools in their order of preference. They are guaranteed a seat somewhere in their district.
Whereever you live, you also may want to consider unzoned schools, gifted programs, charter schools, magnet programs, and dual language programs. Insideschools lists your options.
How do you decide if a school is right for your child? Watch our video on what to look for on a school tour. Many schools have tours. You can find the dates and times on their websites. Insideschools has reviews of many of the schools, and the Department of Education will post its 2013-2014 elementary school directory this month. For more information, see the elementary school enrollment pages.
The DOE will begin testing children for elementary gifted and talented programs in January. (Unfortunately, the deadline has already passed to request testing for your child.)
Parents will hear back about kindergarten placements in early April, according to the DOE's timeline. There are two exceptions: children applying to charter schools will not know whether or not they won seats until after the charter lottery is help in April; children who scored spots in city and district-wide Gifted & Talented programs will not get their assignments until May.
Starting next school year, kindergarten will be mandatory for all five-year-olds. However parents may wait and enroll their child in first grade the year they turn six.