Prekindergarden & Kindergarten Application Process

Important links to Public School Pre-K,  Kindergarten and First Grade information.

Links to the Prekindergarten and Kindergarten application sites:

 Link to PSP reviews:

Advice from PSP members about the application process:

  • "We went on one tour just to make sure we got the basics (we have vegetarian twins and at PK280 School of Journeys in Windsor Terrace this was seen as the easiest thing in the administrative roster...gave me such confidence!). Then applied online to schools that seemed good, then moved (sigh) but decided to go to 280 when our kids got a friend of ours as their teacher!
    We're super happy.
    Our friends at 118 (Sendak) are super happy. Our friends at 39 are super happy....etc.
    I was totally stressed because this was new and I legit was jealous of Moms who had time to compare schools, do research, ask questions on the tour that were 2-sided and helpful for everyone. Now those rockstar Moms & Dads are running our PTA and volunteer as classroom parents whereas I showed up late to the class breakfast and missed the kids' first full day of school for work travel.
    The twins are doing great at school. I might not be involved like I thought I would be but we talk about school and it's amazing but having gone through it all, I started to panic about Kindergarten the other I just had to remind myself it's much easier than it seems and it will all work out. So in short, visit the one school you are most keen on and ask friends for feedback on the other schools, apply online, buy a big backpack!"
  • "Don't panic! All UPK schools go through the citywide lottery in the spring. And most schools offer multiple open houses. Even private preschools that are part of the UPK funding are subject to the lottery (while giving preference to existing students). I am also keeping myself calm by keeping in mind that it is only 1yr and doesn't affect Kindergarten placement or their permanent record. I believe there is a number on the DOE site; my friend called and actually spoke to a live person who was very helpful.
  • "I found looking at the information on the kindergarten directory helpful. It tells you whether any out-of-zone pre-k kids got into that school for k last year. If it's a more popular/crowded school outside of your zone then, even if you managed to get a pre-k spot, you'd probably have to leave for k to make room for students with higher priority. If it's your zoned school then your child would get a kindergarten spot whether or not they attended pre-k.
    An exception to this priority scheme would be district schools that are not zoned (like Brooklyn New School, Children's School, etc). In that case having a pre-k spot would be more helpful for getting a k spot.
    Here's the priority ranking from the kindergarten directory. Pre-k students who are not zoned are 5th priority.
    We make offers to zoned schools in this order:
    1. Students who live in the zone, with a verified sibling*
    2. Students who live in the zone, without a verified sibling If space allows, students living outside the zone may also be admitted, in the following order:
    3. Students who live in the district, with a verified sibling*
    4. Students who live outside the district, with a verified sibling*
    5. Students who live in the district, who are currently enrolled at the school for pre-K**
    6. Students who live outside the district, who are currently enrolled at the school for pre-K**
    7. Students who live in the district, other than those in (3) and (5) above 8. Students who live outside the district, other than those in (4) and (6) above."
  • "According to Joyce's presentation, the order for Kindergarten priority is: zoned sibs, zoned families, unzoned sibs (in district), unzoned sibs (out of district), PreK others in district, other people out of district, others out of borough. so, yes, it's fairly far down the list."
  • "Based on what I learned last night, pre-k priority is 5th, after zoned siblings, zoned families, unzoned sibs in district and unzoned sibs out of district."
  • "So what I have figured out is that some of the neighborhood co-op preschools, like Chickpea and Brooklyn Free Space, have a handful of open spots for the Universal Pre-K. They ask that you apply through them and the deadlines are soon. For those co-ops, they also request a monthly donation to "make up" the costs of their program. The cities budget per child doesn't cover their whole costs. What is not clear to me is how these spots then go through the cities lottery.  
    For the public schools (and it looks like there are many great options) the applications are not even posted yet on the DOE website. So there's plenty of time."
  • "You can't actually sign up for UPK until the spring. The deadlines are for other programs (2s, 3s) but not prek. If a private center is offering UPK it's a lottery through DOE and only those who have been a student the previous year get any kind of preference."
  • "The admissions priorities for zoned schools are different than the admissions priorities for the schools that are not zoned (I call them district schools but that's not quite right because some schools, like Brooklyn New School, admit children from several districts-- I guess I should say non-zoned).  
    Page 48 of the kindergarten directory describes the admissions priorities for kindergarten for Brooklyn New School last year. This year Brooklyn New School is also giving priority to children who receive free or reduced lunch to help foster diversity in the school. The Children's School is on page 49. You search for any non-zoned school in the directory and see their admissions priorities.   So pre-k is far down on the list for zoned schools and generally not as far down for non-zoned schools but you should check each one."
  • We were confused by the private preschools that offered UPK, too (& you were talking about preK, not preschool, right?). According to the NYC DOE, anyone funded by the city for preK goes through the same lottery. Another great resource is
  • "Here is what I know from my experience:
    • Public Pre-K vs. Pre-school 4's programs: it's a gamble, unfortunately, because of the different timelines. Most pre-school contracts for 4's programs are due in February/March. But the public pre-k results come back later in the Spring. So, you either sign a contract for a 4's program, and if you get a public pre-k spot, decide to lose a deposit (and sometimes may be liable for the whole year of tuition, or at least are threatened with that); or you don't sign a contract and hope you get a public pre-k spot (and if you don't, sometimes waiting lists move later in the summer, and you can wait for that, or you can try to find a pre-school spot that opens up, which also happens, or being creative, go the route of a coop or some other way of providing a pre-school experience...). It's up to you what your tolerance is for risk. In this neighborhood, I feel like everyone I knew figured something out, one way or another in the end, but it certainly produces a lot of anxiety!
    • Universal Pre-K/UPK: some pre-schools (like Brooklyn Free Space, I believe) have universal pre-k (which mitigates costs for 4's programs), so I would also look into that (especially if you are looking into public pre-k to save on the insane costs of early childhood education!)
    • Go to Schools Directly: But, I would really more than anything advise to go directly to the schools you're interested in for public pre-k and talk to the parent coordinator at the school.  How many kids who are not siblings of older students get a spot traditionally? Is it even worth the gamble to forego a spot in a 4's program you like if the chances of getting a spot are so slim?
    • Public Pre-K does not mean Kindergarten in the Same School: Also good to remember is that public pre-k will not be the same as kindergarten for many. For instance, the new school on 4th ave./7th street (PS 118 - the Maurice Sendak community school) also offers pre-k. A friend got a spot there late in the summer for her 4-year-old (but the older siblings go to 321, so he will probably go there for kindergarten).  So, just important to remember that having a spot in pre-k in a school does not mean you will have a spot for kindergarten necessarily, though it does work out that way sometimes. (Caveat: talk to the parent coordinators at each school for fully updated info!)
    • However, once you're in a school for kindergarten, you are guaranteed a spot there until the terminal year of the school (5th grade for most), so getting a spot in kindergarten is the entry point I would also make sure to focus on (when the time comes!), as I'm sure everyone will."