If your child didn't get the kindergarten spot you asked for, try to stay calm. Waitlists at sought-after schools move over the spring and summer. We have seen it happen year after year. Children get offers on a rolling basis as families make final choices. Hang in there.

The city sent out offers for kindergarten seats this week: 49,064 students (71 percent) received an offer to their first choice; 12,897 (19 percent) got one of their other choices and 7,189 (10 percent) were shut out of all their choices. Some received offers to their zoned school even though they didn't list it.

These are the perils of living in the largest system of school "choice" in the country. But take heart: Your child is automatically placed on waitlists for all the choices above the one you got. Our advice: Call the parent coordinator at the school you want. Stay in friendly touch. Be easy to reach. This is not the time to hike a mountain with no cell phone service.

Whether or not you're happy with the school to which your child is assigned, you should make an appointment by April to register your child there to hold your spot. To do this, bring your child, your child's birth certificate and proof of residence (see the list of acceptable documents). This won't keep you from getting an offer at a school where you are waitlisted, or a gifted and talented program, or a charter school. (Admissions letters for G&T and charters come later in the spring.)

If you missed the boat and didn't apply at all, you may still visit schools and apply in person.

Some zoned neighborhood schools are overcrowded in northwestern parts of the Bronx, Manhattan's Upper West Side, northern Queens, parts of Brooklyn such as Sunset Park, and elsewhere. In all, about 900 applicants were edged out of their zoned schools. Borough Park's PS 160 tops the list with 94 kindergartners in the zone waiting to get in. Brooklyn's PS 29 has a waitlist for the first time.

In some cases, the waitlists will clear by April 7; in others, they clear by summer, as families move away, or opt for gifted and talented programs or private schools.

In Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, PS 58's parent coordinator Joan Bredthauer is cautiously hopeful all 16 families on the waitlist will get in. "Look, you can never predict," she said by phone. "We have slightly fewer than last year; some got in by September, some earlier," she added.

Citywide, waitlists for zoned schools are down this year compared to three years ago when the number of families on waitlist was about 2,300.

Read our school profiles and check InsideStats. You may discover some alternatives that are acceptable. Otherwise, take a breath and give waitlists time.

For more information, families may call (718) 935-2009 or visit www.nyc.gov/schools/kindergarten.

Download the kindergarten waitlist here.