With JustaBXgirl starting school in September I have been researching best programs for her. NYC is a great city to live in because our children are supplied with free Pre-K. I have friends of four year old children in other cities that have to pay for this privilege. That being said don’t think it’s as easy as selecting a school and dropping your child off there in September.
School starts in September but Pre-K applications opened January 17th and must be submitted by February 24th. Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten yours in yet. It is not first come, first serve. And even after you’ve submitted the application you can go back and make adjustments up until February 24th.
I recently attended a Pre-K Application Info Session in the Bronx and wanted to share all of the info I got from it with you. Do I think you should attend your own if given the chance? YES. While a lot of the information shared can be found online the ability to ask and hear other’s questions should not be missed. The presenters were very informative and very helpful.
I must say though that I was a bit disappointed in Bronx parents. Yup, I’m calling out the Pre-K parents in my borough. There were less than 30 of us at the session. I get it. We work and might not be able to make a session. We don’t live near the venue hosting the session. We have multiple children at home and limited support. We already know what school we want our child to attend. I could list a gazillion reasons not to attend the session but I’ll give you one on why you should, your child deserves you to have the information you need to choose the best school.
Here are a few things I learned from attending:
Not all programs at listed in the directory! – Whoa! If you’ve picked up the directory from a school, family welcome center or anywhere else please know that new programs are constantly being added! How then can you be sure if you’re seeing all of the programs you might be interested in? Use the Pre-K Finder.
The Pre-K Finder is a really useful tool. It allows you to see all programs in your neighborhood as well as across the city. It also allows you to view a school quality snapshot. The snapshot gives you an inside look on how the school performed last year. If a program is newly added this year they will not have a snapshot available.
Offer Letter – We will receive an offer for only ONE school. It doesn’t matter if you put 12 on the application. Your child will only get an offer for one school. It is imperative to put schools down in the order you would want your child to attend. If there is space in your child’s first choice nobody will look to your second, third or following choices. If there is no room in your first choice, they move to your second, then third, fourth, etc until a spot is available. Don’t fret though because you will be put on the waitlist for any school higher on your application than the one your child was accepted at.
Admission Priority – While all of our children will get placed in a school for Pre-K we must be realistic about where they will be placed. You can apply for a seat at any Pre-K program in the City but here’s how the decision is made. Priority is given to children that have previously attended the programs if the program has a 2s & 3s program or a Head Start on site. As for schools, first priority is given to children that have siblings already attending the school. Second priority goes to students zoned for the school. Then the rest of our applications come into play. We must also remember that most of these places don’t have more than two or three classes. Once priority assignments have been made there might not be many open slots in your dream school. This is why it is very important to choose more than one school on your application. I submitted six schools on JustaBXgirl’s application. I’m still looking on the Pre-K Finder for more schools to add.
Timeline – Applications opened January 17th for first round and will close February 24th. We will begin receiving our offer letter in late April and will have to register with our accepted school by May 9th. Please schedule a site visit to the school before registering. Nothing like registering and then showing up in September and realizing this is not the school for your child. There will be a second round of applications beginning in May as well. You do not have to reapply to schools you have listed higher than the school you were accepted to as you are already on their waitlist. If you are not happy with the school your child was accepted to make sure to do round 2 as there will be new schools added in that round.
Other Things To Know –
- Waitlist offers usually go out late Sept to early October so there’s always a chance at getting into one of your higher selections.
- If you are not happy with the school your child was accepted into don’t worry the school will help you discover your options. Just note that those options might be limited to a zoned school you didn’t place on your list at all.
- Think you can relax once Pre-K begins? Nope, not at all! In November it all begins again with Kindergarten applications and the testing for Gifted & Talented schools. You read that right. You might have gotten your dream school in Pre-K but your child is not guaranteed a spot there for Kindergarten!
Make sure to sign up for updates on the NYC Schools page so that you don’t miss any important Pre-K updates. Good luck!