Stay focused, parents of kids born in 2013—the pre-kindergarten application season will be in full swing around the time of the U.S. presidential inauguration. For most families, this means scheduling tours, pouring through InsideSchools reviews and playing with up to 12 rankings like a fantasy football fanatic.
The application window is between January 17−February 24. All applications are considered equally no matter when they are submitted, so there's no benefit in rushing it.
For in-person help, join us at our free event on Wednesday, January 11th, at 9:30 am. Sign up here. For $20 you will receive our new book at the event, New York City's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools.
Who may attend pre-k
Any child who turns 4 by Dec. 31, 2017 is entitled to attend pre-k in 2017 (a child with a fall birthday may start school in September when he is still 3). Most children attend pre-kindergarten 6 hours and 20 minutes a day, 180 days a year—the same schedule as older children.
What programs are available?
The city doesn't have room in its neighborhood schools for all the city's 4-year-olds. To create more seats, it contracts with child-care centers, private nursery schools, religious schools and community centers. In addition, the city has established freestanding "pre-k centers," which children attend for just one year. While some ordinary neighborhood schools have pre-kindergarten, the bulk of seats are in these other locations. Your child is guaranteed a seat somewhere but there is no guarantee you will get your first choice, or that your assignment will be close to home. No transportation is provided (except for children with special needs and those in temporary housing).
The city offers free directories of all the pre-k programs, updated annually. You may also find a school near your home by searching our website. The Department of Education is offering pre-k info sessions in January, one night in each borough. See the schedule here: http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/events/default.htm.
How to apply to pre-k
You may apply online through the Department of Education website starting on Jan. 17; in person at a Family Welcome Center; or by telephone: (718) 935-2067. All families who submit by February 24 will get an offer letter in late April 2017 and must accept by early May.
There are many options out there all over the city. Check our profiles, which tell more. We've liked much of what we've seen, especially the new pre-k centers run by the DOE.