In New York City, children enter kindergarten in the fall of the calendar year they turn five, and are guaranteed a kindergarten seat at a public school. If you have a child born in 2016, you will apply to kindergarten this winter and your child will begin kindergarten in September 2021. Once your child starts kindergarten, they can remain at the same school until its final elementary grade.
If you missed the deadline to apply to kindergarten, you can still add your child to waitlists online with MySchools.
Know the Paths to Elementary School
There are two paths to elementary admissions:
- Applying to kindergarten by submitting an application
- Applying to Gifted & Talented (G&T) programs
All families are encouraged to participate in both kindergarten and G&T admissions. Learn more on the Gifted & Talented page.
Who Can Apply?
Every five-year-old New York City resident (this includes students who have temporarily moved out of New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic) is guaranteed a seat in a public school kindergarten program. Children start kindergarten in the September of the calendar year they turn five. If your child was born in 2016, you will apply to kindergarten this winter, and your child will start kindergarten in Fall 2021.
We welcome all of the following to apply to kindergarten: current pre-K students at DOE public schools, Pre-K Centers, NYC Early Education Centers, charter schools, and private and parochial schools; students with disabilities; students with accessibility needs; students learning English; students in temporary housing; and LGBTQ and gender nonconforming students.
Find Elementary Schools
Start exploring kindergarten programs around the time your child starts pre-K.
There are two types of schools that you can add to your kindergarten application.
- Zoned Schools. Most NYC families have a zoned school, which means they live in an area zoned for a specific school and their children have priority to attend it. Your zoned school, if you have one, is the school where your child is most likely to go to kindergarten. Most zoned schools make kindergarten offers to all students living in the zone. Some zoned schools have room to make offers to children living outside of their zone.
- Non-Zoned Schools. These schools do not have a zone. Families throughout the district or borough can attend them. Most non-zoned schools give priority to students who have older siblings attending, who are current pre-K students, or who live in the district.
New York City has 32 school districts. There are three districts in NYC where all the schools are nonzoned, and students living in these districts have priority to attend all schools in the district. These districts are:
District 1: Lower East Side, Manhattan
District 7: South Bronx
District 23: Brownsville, Brooklyn
- During the application period, use MySchools to learn if you have a zoned elementary school.
- Year-round, you can also call 311 to learn your district and zoned school.
Dual Language Programs
When you apply to kindergarten, you are not just applying to schools—you are applying to programs. Think of a program as a “doorway” to get into the school. Most elementary schools have only one program, but some have two or more, such as a general education program and a Dual Language program. In your kindergarten application, you will be able to see both the school and program name for each of your choices.
In Dual Language (DL) programs, students are taught in two languages. The goal is for English proficient students and English Language Learners to not only develop new language skills and learn academic subjects in two languages, but also practice and share language and culture with each other, becoming bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural. If you are interested in a Dual Language program, be sure to add that specific program—not the school’s English-only program—to your kindergarten application.
Charter schools have a separate admissions process. Contact charter schools directly to learn how to apply.
Learn How Students Get Offers
All NYC children born in 2016 are guaranteed a kindergarten seat in a public school. How can you know your child’s chances of getting an offer from one of your favorite schools? It helps to start by learning how offers are made. Students get kindergarten offers based on four key factors:
Your application choices
The number of choices that you add to your child’s application AND the order in which you place them matter! Add up to 12 choices to your child’s application in your true order of preference. Then submit the application.
Program's seat availability
- Each kindergarten program has a certain number of available seats.
- Schools vary in size and demand. When a school has more applicants than seats, we can’t make offers to everyone who wants to attend it—in this case, offers are made first to the students who have the highest admissions priority to attend the school.
Admissions priorities and your priority group for a program
- Kindergarten programs give admissions priorities to specific groups of applicants before others, such as to students who live in a specific zone, who have siblings at the school, who live in the district, or who currently attend pre-K at the school.
- All students in a program’s priority group 1 will be considered first for offers. Then, if seats are still available, students in that program’s priority group 2 will be considered next, and so on. Learn which priority group your child is in for each kindergarten program. They will be in different priority groups for different programs.
Randomly assigned numbers
Each kindergarten applicant is also assigned a random number. If there are fewer available seats than applicants within a priority group, these random numbers determine the order in which students get offers.
Your child has a better chance of getting an offer from some schools than others. A school’s admissions priorities determine the order in which groups of applicants are considered for offers.
Tip: Use MySchools to learn about a school’s admissions priorities and who got offers last year. This information will help you know your child’s chances of getting an offer to a particular school. The higher priority your child has to attend a school, the higher the chance that your child will get an offer to that school.
If a school made offers to a specific group of students in 2020, they may be able to make offers to this group again. For example, if a school was able to make offers to children living outside of their zone who had an older sibling in the school, they may be able to make offers to siblings living outside of the zone again.
There are several types of admissions priorities:
Elementary schools offer an admissions priority to applicants whose siblings attend the same school. If your child has an older sibling at a school that you’ve added to their application, your child may have a higher chance of getting an offer from that school than an applicant without an enrolled sibling. To make sure your child gets sibling priority, be sure to provide sibling information when you apply.
A sibling is defined as an applicant’s brother or sister, including half-brothers, half-sisters, step-brothers, step-sisters, foster brothers, and foster sisters who live in the same household and are currently preregistered or enrolled at that school in kindergarten through grade 12, and who will be enrolled at that school in any grade level between kindergarten and grade 12 in September 2021. This includes students enrolled in District 75 programs in the same school building.
If your child is currently enrolled in pre-K at a DOE public elementary school, they will have an admissions priority to attend kindergarten at that school. Not all elementary schools have pre-K.
Reminder: Students currently attending pre-K at a public elementary school still need to apply to kindergarten.
Most schools give an admissions priority to students in their own district over students who live in other districts.
Admissions Priorities for Zoned Schools
All zoned elementary schools make offers to students in the following order:
- Students who live in the zone and have a sibling at the school
- Other students who live in the zone
If space allows, students living outside the zone may also be admitted, in the following order:
- Students with a sibling at the school who live in the district
- Students with a sibling at the school who live outside the district
- Students who live in the district and are currently enrolled at the school for preK
- Students who live outside the district and are currently enrolled at the school for preK
- Other students who live in the district
- Other students who live outside the district
Tip: Use MySchools to see which zoned schools admitted non-zoned students last year.
Admissions Priorities for Non-Zoned Schools
Different non-zoned schools have different admissions priorities, but most non-zoned schools give an admissions priority to students who live in the same district as the school. When you are logged in to your MySchools account, you can look up any school’s admissions priorities in MySchools, find out which priority group your child is in for that school, and learn which groups of applicants received offers from that school last year.
District-Specific Admissions Priorities
Some districts—such as Districts 1, 7, and 23 have district-specific admissions priorities.
Diversity in Admissions
Elementary schools across the city are participating in an initiative to increase diversity in their programs by giving admissions priorities to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch (FRL), students in temporary housing, English Language Learners, and other groups. Learn more about diversity in admissions in the current list of schools participating in diversity initiatives.
Learn about Virtual Events
Please contact schools directly or check their websites to learn if they will hold virtual open houses or information sessions.
If you missed the virtual Elementary Admissions Event in December and January, a recording will be available with captions in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Korean, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Russian and Urdu.
How to Apply
When the application period is open:
- Choose up to 12 schools that you’d like your child to attend.
- Add these programs to their kindergarten application.
- Order these school choices in the application from favorite to least favorite, with your favorite school at the top as #1.
Your child will get an offer to your highest possible choice considering the factors discussed in the “Learn How Students Get Offers” section above.
- Some elementary schools also offer Dual Language program or programs. To apply to a Dual Language program, add it to your child’s application.
- If you’d like your child to attend your zoned school, be sure to add it to your application; however, you don’t have to place it as your first choice.
- Submit only one application per child.
You can submit your kindergarten application one of two ways:
- Online with MySchools in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Russian, Arabic, Urdu, Haitian Creole, Korean, or French. We’ll let you know when the application opens and you can apply online!
- By phone at 718-935-2009. If you are applying by phone, interpretation services are available in more than 200 languages.
Kindergarten admissions is not first come, first served—all applications submitted online, by phone, or in person by the deadline will be treated the same based on admissions priorities.
Get Your Kindergarten Offer
Kindergarten offers will be sent in the spring. Your offer letter will tell you where your child will go to kindergarten in the fall. It will also tell you where your child is waitlisted.
A school has a kindergarten waitlist when there are more students that apply to it than kindergarten seats available. Your child will automatically be on the waitlist for any school you listed higher on your kindergarten application than the school where your child got an offer. Schools will contact you directly if they are able to offer your child a seat from the waitlist.
G&T Scores and Results
If your child takes the G&T test, you will receive their results in the spring. If your child does get a G&T offer, you will have to choose to accept the G&T program or your child's kindergarten placement.
Accept Your Offer and Register
First, accept your kindergarten offer to secure your child's seat. You can accept your offer in one of the following ways:
- If you applied online, you can accept your offer online at MySchools.nyc
- If you applied by phone, you can accept your offer:
Then contact the school directly to learn how and when to register.
Students Who Move During the Admissions Process
If your family moves during the admissions process, call 718-935-2009 or contact your new zoned school to update your information and talk about changes to your kindergarten application or program.
- If you're unsure what your new zoned school is, enter your home address here.
- If you don't have a zoned school, learn what to do on the New Students page.
- Your child’s priority to attend certain programs may change if you move.