Applying to Kindergarten 101

If you have a child born in 2014, 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 14, 2019 (extended to January 22!). 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 by typing in your address here and see a list of schools by district in the Kindergarten & Gifted and Talented Admissions Guide (which shows you dual language programs and if unzoned students were admitted last year). For most of the schools in the Greater Bay Ridge Area, i.e. District 20, there is only a very small chance of getting into a school you are not zoned for). Below is a map of District 20 elementary schools from the Admissions Guide.

Brooklyn District 20 Map of Elementary Schools

Applying to Kindergarten:

The easiest way to apply for Kindergarten 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!!! You will be offered a seat at the highest ranked school that has a seat available when you are selected from the lottery pool (most likely your zoned school, no matter where on the list it was ranked, unless you get lucky, are drawn early in the lottery, and get offered a seat at a “long shot” school you aren’t zoned for). You will be wait listed at all schools ranked higher than the one you are offered. If you do not put your zoned school somewhere in that list of 12, you risk not getting a seat anywhere.

Admissions are NOT first come first served, so applying on December 5 vs January 13 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 14 deadline (extended to January 22).

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 visit the DOE’s Kindergarten Guide. 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 Brooklyn directory of 2018-2019 charter schools 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 9th 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:

  • November 9, 2018: Deadline to apply for G&T Testing

  • December 5, 2018: Kindergarten applications open (for children born in 2014)

  • January 14*, 2019: Deadline to apply for kindergarten (*extended to January 22)

  • January 2019: G&T Tests Conducted

  • February 2019: UPK applications open (for students born in 2015)

  • March 2019: Kindergarten offers sent out (by email and USPS)

  • March 2019: G&T Scores sent out

  • April 2019: 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 2019: Deadline to apply to G&T Program (for children who scored high enough)

  • May - June, 2019: Receive G&T Program offer

  • June 2019: 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, 2019: 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!