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.

The city has kindergarten directories available online. Hard copies are available at local elementary schools and Family Welcome Centers.

Most children attend their zoned neighborhood school, based on their home address. To find the school for which your child is zoned, call 311. If your zoned neighborhood school is satisfactory, you can usually relax. Your child is guaranteed a seat except in unusual circumstances—such as serious overcrowding.

But you may also want to consider other options including gifted programs, schools of choice, dual language programs or neighborhood schools that have room for children from outside the zone. Most schools offer tours in December and January. See a partial list of school open houses here. If you don't see the school you want, contact the parent coordinator to find out when there are tours.

If you want to consider charter schools, you still have some time: applications for charter schools aren't due until the end of March.

The DOE has centralized kindergarten enrollment through an online application system called "kindergarten connect." This form, which allows you to apply to up to 12 schools, gives the impression that there is more school choice than, in fact, is available. Nothing is to stop you from putting a very popular school on your list but don't get your hopes up if you don't live in the zone. Nonetheless, there are many options beyond your zoned neighborhood school.

The city is divided in 32 districts schools and each district has several dozen attendance zones. Three districts, District 1 on the Lower East Side, District 7 in the South Bronx, and District 23 in the East New York section of Brooklyn, have no school zones; children may apply to any school in these districts.

Your child will be assigned a seat in March; if he isn't assigned to your first choice, he will automatically be placed on a waitlist at all the schools you preferred. Some very popular schools have seats open up in later summer, early fall, or even in the winter. There's lots of movement after the first round of applications, so don't be discouraged if you see in the directory that a school did not accept students from outside the zone. That information is accurate only as of March of last year when the first round of acceptances went out.

To apply online, go to schools.nyc.gov/applyonline. To apply by phone, call 718-935-2400. To apply in person, go to a Family Welcome Center.