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It's gone from famine to feast in recent years: Parents once faced with too few pre-k options may now wade through a world of choices. Let us help you narrow the list with some promising new programs and schools we can recommend in every borough. Note: If a great program is hopelessly oversubscribed we didn't include it here.
Applications for pre-kindergarten for children born in 2013 are due Feb. 24. (Charter schools have separate applications. The Common Online Charter School Application closes on Saturday, April 1 at midnight.)
Popular programs, especially in public schools, have many more applicants than seats. We've limited our picks to programs that are most likely to have space for children living outside the school zone or who aren't siblings of current students. Still, it doesn't hurt to apply to a program where space is tight: If you're not matched in this first application round, your name will be automatically put on a waitlist for all the choices you listed above the one you got. Be patient. Spaces frequently open up even in the fall.
Got a 4-year-old? Now's the time to apply to pre-kindergarten. We've compiled a list of best bets, based on our visits and intel on schools most likely to have space. Before reading on, see more details about the process on our post, Pre-k picks: Manhattan & the Bronx
Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Vinegar Hill
In District 13, in the heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant, PS 3, a school noted for its dedication to the arts, has five pre-kindergartens and even had space for out-of-district students last year. It has a great outdoor play area, a garden and it offers after school until 6 pm. We can recommend PS 54, an up-and-comer with space that has a great STEM curriculum. Kids run their own composting program. Just a block from Fort Greene Park, PS 67 has a vibrant, play-based program in a school that's on the upswing. A few blocks away in the DUMBO–Vinegar Hill area, PS 307 has some great perks, including a STEM magnet grant and a Mandarin Chinese teacher. The sparkling new pre-k center at Dock Street has 72 seats, and all did not fill in its first year: on a recent visit there were only 55 children enrolled. Consider PS 133, a lottery school which offers Spanish dual language in pre-k. It's also open to residents of District 15, but priority goes to low-income students and to those learning to speak English.
Winter is the perfect time to think about summer activities for children. In fact, deadlines are coming quickly for many of the city's free programs. Summer is a great time for children to explore a new challenge or continue to sharpen their areas of strength.
Not sure how to find the right program? InsideSchools offers a guide of more than 100 free and low cost, summer and year-round programs for children.
Here are a few samples from across our five subject areas of math, science, arts, humanities, and academic prep to help you navigate your way to a summer of fun for your child.
Learn about your public school options from Clara Hemphill, InsideSchools founder. She is offering two free workshops in Manhattan next week and presenting her new book, NYC's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools.
Come to the Upper West Side on Monday, Feb. 6, at 6 pm for the workshop at Rutgers Community Programs at 236 W. 73rd Street. Sign up here.
Or, come to the Word Up Community Bookshop/Libreria Comunitaria, 2113 Amsterdam Ave. in Washington Heights, Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 pm.
Hemphill will talk about the changes in public schools over the past 20 years and offer tips for finding a good school for your child. The book is based on more than 150 visits to public pre-k & elementary schools in all five boroughs by the InsideSchools staff.
Q: I am a high school junior, and recently failed 4 out of 7 classes I am taking. Last year, as a sophomore, I also failed English. But I got a 1270 on the PSAT, so I'm in the 90th percentile there. I wonder, conceivably, if I turn my act around, will I have a chance to get into a state school with around an 80 percent acceptance rate?
A: Short answer: I don't know!
Longer answer: Your statement raises many questions. There are, as I see it, three major issues:
Stay focused, parents of kids born in 2013—the pre-kindergarten application season is in full swing.
You may apply between now and 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 Monday, February 6, at 6 pm, at Rutgers Community Programs, 236 W. 73rd Street. Sign up here. Our new book, New York City's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools
will be on sale at the event.
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.
Pre-Kindergarten applications for children turning 4-years-old this year are due on Friday, Feb. 24. Let us help you get informed and ready. Sign up for our free workshop at Rutgers Community Programs at 236 W. 73rd Street on Feb. 6 at 6 pm.
Join Clara Hemphill and the staff of InsideSchools as we release our new book, New York City's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools. We'll highlight some undiscovered gems and walk you through the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten application process.
Q: I have gotten accepted into two universities that I like: one is a prestigious private university, the other a prestigious state university. Both are highly ranked but the private university has the advantage in rankings. On the flip side, it is much more expensive and I can't gauge which one has a better science program. I'm torn as to which university I should choose. A college visit is off the table so I don't know what my options are to figure out which is better for me.
A: Choosing where to enroll is a very challenging proposition. You are to be congratulated on having such great options. I will ask you one question and then will give you my take.
If you have a child who will turn five in 2017, now is the time to apply to kindergarten for the school year starting in September. Your child is guaranteed a seat regardless of when you enroll, but you'll have the best chance of getting into a school of your choice if you apply by Jan. 13.
If you want to learn more about your options, come to our kindergarten workshop Jan. 11, or buy our new book, New York City's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools.
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