Parents of children who turn four in 2012 have a few more days to apply for public school pre-kindergarten programs for next September. The Education Department extended the application deadline from April 5 to April 10.

Online applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on April 10. Parents who prefer to fill out a paper application must go to an enrollment office and apply there before 3 p.m. on April 10.  In previous years paper applications were included in the directory and could be mailed in. But the DOE is no longer accepting applications by mail.

Also for the first time in several years, this year there is only one centralized application round. After the DOE places students in June, schools with space available will enroll students directly. Parents will find out the week of June 11 whether their child has gotten a spot. Registration takes place June 12-22.

Best advice for families who don't get in anywhere is to get your child on a waitlist at the preferred schools. Schools will offer spots as they become available.

"That's going back to what we did in the past," said Lisa Siegman, principal of PS 3 in Greenwich Village which has 90 seats, mostly half-day. "It's actually easier if we handle it [admissions]. We will maintain lists and I anticipate it being orderly."

In many areas of the city, public school pre-k seats are few and far between, especially in full day programs. A better option for parents might be daycare centers, Head Starts, private nursery schools and childcare centers where programs are free for at least part of the day. Apply directly to those community organizations (CBOs) which are listed in the pre-kindergarten directory.