Applying to Kindergarten 101

If you have a child born in 2013, the time is NOW to apply for kindergarten at NYC public schools!! The process can feel overwhelming and completely nerve wracking, so we'd like to try to break it down and walk you through it. Now, take a deep breath, keep calm, and read on!


Zoned Schools:

Everyone has a zoned elementary school based on their home address (you don't need proof of address when applying but will need to have several items upon registration later in the year). This is where your children are supposed to be guaranteed a seat, though you must still apply and depending on overcrowding there is a slight chance you might not get a seat right away, especially if you miss the initial application deadline of January 12, 2018. In this case you will go on a wait list and may be offered a seat right before schools starts (since some children who already registered will move, get into a G&T program, or choose another school at the last minute) or later in the year.

You can search for your zoned school on this easy interactive map and read about each school in the Brooklyn Kindergarten directory - you can get details such as how many students are at each school and how many unzoned students they accepted last year (for most of the schools in the Greater Bay Ridge Area, i.e. District 20, there is slim to no chance of getting in out of zone).

Applying to Kindergarten:

The easiest way to do this is online here, but you can also do it by phone or in person at a Family Welcome Center. You'll create an account and list up to 12 schools in order of preference (note that charter schools have a separate application, see below). Don't forget to list your zoned school!!!

Admissions are NOT first come first served, so applying on November 28 vs January 12 will not effect your chances of getting into a specific school. You can also go in and edit your list right up until the January 12 deadline.


For parents not thrilled with their zoned school, or just looking for something different without having to pay for a private school, there are some other options. For all options, be sure to read the Kindergarten Directory thoroughly. We've covered two of the most popular alternatives below:


Charter Schools:

There are over 200 charter schools in NYC. From the Charter School Directory, "Charter schools have the freedom to innovate in their classroom structures, curriculum, teaching methods, and other programs, with the goal of providing a high‐quality education and new models for all public schools."

Charter schools are free but you apply to each one directly. This gives you more options since acceptance at your zoned or other school will not effect your acceptance to a charter school, which is usually lottery. You can read more about charter schools here and see the directory of charter schools in Brooklyn here (though there are none in Bay Ridge / District 20).


Gifted & Talented Programs

The curriculum is faster and the course load is heavier, as G&T is designed for "gifted" and "talented" students who need the extra challenge. Not every student who scores high enough on the test to be offered a seat will do well in G&T, while others will thrive. Many parents have their children tested since being accepted into a G&T program can be the only way to get into a desired school you are not zoned for. It's up to you to decide if you want to have your child tested, and if he or she scores high enough, if you want to apply and/or accept a seat.

The November 13th deadline to request G&T testing has passed (tests will take place in January), but children can test and apply as rising Kindergarten through 3rd graders, so you can try again next year if you wish. You can read more about G&T programs and the application process in our blog post here


Key Dates:

  • January 12, 2018:  Deadline to apply for kindergarten
  • January 3 - 18, 2018: G&T Tests Conducted
  • February 5, 2018: UPK applications open (for students born in 2014)
  • March 2018:  Kindergarten offers sent out (by email and USPS)
  • March 2018: G&T Scores sent out
  • April 2018:  Deadline to accept your Kindergarten offer (this is when you'll pre-register in person, providing required proofs of address). Go ahead and accept the offer, even if you are hoping to choose a G&T program or get into a wait-listed program - you can switch later but it's best to have a backup plan!
  • April 16, 2018: Deadline to apply to G&T Program (for children who scored high enough) 
  • May - June, 2018: Receive G&T Program offer
  • June 2018: Deadline to accept G&T seat (as children accept G&T seats and pull out of previously registered Kindergarten programs, those seats will open up to waitlisted children).
  • April - October, 2018: waitlisted children may be offered seats

Other Tips:

  • Check out schools' websites to look for open houses and ways to take a tour. It won't give your child a better chance of acceptance but can be helpful in deciding where to apply or just feeling more informed about your options.

  • Be sure to sign up for appropriate NYC DOE list serves and Bay Ridge Families' weekly roundups so you are kept up to date on upcoming deadlines and important information.

Looking for a great preschool or UPK program in Brooklyn? We are Worldtots, a dual-language English & Mandarin program located in the intersection of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Sunset Park!