Pre-K: Children Born in 2011

Children in high quality Pre-K do better in elementary school than four-year-olds who stay at home. Take advantage of NYC’s free, full day Pre-K! Enroll your child!
Important Dates
First day of school is September 9, 2015
Gifted & Talented Request for Testing (for kindergarten) deadline is November 7, 2015
Pre-K general enrollment period starts Monday March 16, 2015
Pre-K general enrollment period ends Friday, April 24, 2015 (Round One)
Charter school enrollment period are Various. Please contact these schools directly
Pre-K: What is it? Why is it important?
Pre-Kindergarten or “Pre-K” is offered for free to all eligible NYC children. It prepares children for school, teaching them the early skills needed for subjects like reading and math. Pre-K should also be fun, involve play, develop motor skills, and teach your child how to socialize and work with others.

Why should you enroll your child in Pre-K? Studies show that a high-quality Pre-K program can increase both school and life success.Children who attend high-quality programs are less likely to be held back a grade, less likely to need special education, and more likely to graduate from high school. They also have higher earnings as adults and are less likely to become dependent on welfare or involved with law enforcement” (“Why All Children Benefit from Pre-K,” June 15, 2005, available here). If your child does not attend Pre-K they might not have the same level of skills, habits, and experience shared by other classmates in kindergarten.

Pre-K also helps parents learn and gain early experience with the NYC school system. Parent involvement is an important part of a student’s success in NYC schools. Many schools expect that parents will know how to talk to teachers and administrators, especially when there is a problem at school or home that impacts learning. They also expect that parents will reinforce at home what is taught at school, monitor homework and school progress, and make sure children get additional help if needed. In other words, they expect parents to play an active role in their children’s education. Pre-K can be parents’ first step in acquiring the skills they need to help their children succeed.

What is high quality Pre-K? According to research, parents should look for schools where:
  • the teachers have specialized training in educating young children (“early childhood education”)
  • children are placed in small groups (no more than 20 children)
  • children have opportunities for one-on-one interaction with the teacher
  • the daily learning activities (curriculum) help develop language, reading, math and other skills that promote school readiness
  • they encourage family involvement and feedback
  • they consider the needs of the whole child (children who are hungry, have undiagnosed health problems, or who suffer from undue stress cannot learn properly)
Of course, it is also important to consider characteristics that matter to each unique family such as location (if it is close to your home or workplace), atmosphere, and familiarity. (See Pewtrusts.org What is high quality prek.) In any case, parents should try to visit or tour any school they are considering their child. Contact the school directly to see if they offer tours or meetings with interested families.

How to enroll in Pre-K: 3 Steps
STEP 1: GET INFORMED
There is one application for free, full day, five day a week Pre-K in district schools, at NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs) (in community organizations and some religious schools), and in some charter schools. Half day programs and programs that run on other schedules are not included in the city’s free public program.

First, find out about the programs available to you. You can visit any public elementary school or borough Family Welcome Center to pick up a Pre-K Directory listing the public schools and community-based organizations that offer Pre-K services. The Pre-K directory is also available on line and might be more current than the printed version. The website NYC.GOV Pre-K has the most current information on available programs. You can also visit schools and other programs directly to ask questions in person.

Most students attend Pre-K close to their home. However, you do not have to choose a school just because it is in your district. You can apply to a school close to your workplace, close to a relative or a caregiver, or a school that has a philosophy or program you’d like for your child now or in the future (if you child stays there for elementary school). However, schools have admissions criteria that they use to prioritize different applicants and determine who to admit. Some NYCEEC and charter Pre-K programs may have additional eligibility criteria related to previous affiliation with the organization, household income, place of residence, and childcare needs. These criteria are described in the Pre-K directory, or you can contact the school directly to obtain this information. It is worth noting now that for kindergarten admissions (next year), some schools will give higher priority to students who attended their Pre-K program.

Many charter schools have free full day programs but conduct a separate admissions process with their own admission priorities (e.g., priority for children in a charter school’s community school district). These schools operate separately from the Department of Education and develop their own unique academic programs of learning, but they must meet performance goals to remain open. Some charter schools are highly sought after, feature innovative programming, and have high testing and graduation rates. Critics say that some charter schools are of variable quality or use policies that manipulate measures of success. If you are interested in Pre-K at a charter school, you will need to contact that school directly for information on how to apply.

STEP 2: APPLY

Once you have decided which programs are best for your child, you can rank up to 12 programs on the Pre-K application form. The Pre-K application is available in Spanish and other languages. Translated materials are available at NYC.GOV Pre-K and interpretation services are available in person at a Family Welcome Center or over the phone at 718-935-2067.

Online: The application is available at: NYC.GOV Pre-K

Over the phone: 718-935-2067 (8am – 6pm, Monday – Friday) or call 311.

In person: At a Family Welcome Center (8am – 3pm, Monday – Friday). For a list of Family Welcome Centers, click here.

When filling out the Pre-K application you will need to know the following information:

For the child: full name, date of birth, address

For the parents or guardians: names, phone numbers, email addresses (if applying on line).

The Pre-K programs you are applying to, in order of preference

If your child has a sibling attending one of the programs that you are going to list on your application, or applying at the same time, you will also need their name, date of birth and if applicable current school, grade, and student ID number.

Since charter schools have a separate admissions process and their own admission priorities, you need to contact most charter schools directly to apply for admissions. The primary web source for charter school information is NYC Charter Schools.

If you miss the opportunity to apply to a program before the main round deadline, you may contact these programs directly to be added to their waitlists. A second application process (Round 2) conducted in the summer will allow families to apply to programs opened after the main round was conducted. Up-to-date information about Round 2 and new Pre-K options will be available to families at www.nyc.gov/prek or by calling 718-935-2009.

STEP 3: REGISTER

After your child has been accepted to a program they will be asked to pre-register. At that stage you will need to provide the following documentation:

First, find out about the programs available to you. You can visit any public elementary school or borough Family Welcome Center to pick up a Pre-K Directory listing the public schools and community-based organizations that offer Pre-K services. The Pre-K directory is also available on line and might be more current than the printed version. The website NYC.GOV Pre-K has the most current information on available programs. You can also visit schools and other programs directly to ask questions in person.

Most students attend Pre-K close to their home. However, you do not have to choose a school just because it is in your district. You can apply to a school close to your workplace, close to a relative or a caregiver, or a school that has a philosophy or program you’d like for your child now or in the future (if you child stays there for elementary school). However, schools have admissions criteria that they use to prioritize different applicants and determine who to admit. Some NYCEEC and charter Pre-K programs may have additional eligibility criteria related to previous affiliation with the organization, household income, place of residence, and childcare needs. These criteria are described in the Pre-K directory, or you can contact the school directly to obtain this information. It is worth noting now that for kindergarten admissions (next year), some schools will give higher priority to students who attended their Pre-K program.

Many charter schools have free full day programs but conduct a separate admissions process with their own admission priorities (e.g., priority for children in a charter school’s community school district). These schools operate separately from the Department of Education and develop their own unique academic programs of learning, but they must meet performance goals to remain open. Some charter schools are highly sought after, feature innovative programming, and have high testing and graduation rates. Critics say that some charter schools are of variable quality or use policies that manipulate measures of success. If you are interested in Pre-K at a charter school, you will need to contact that school directly for information on how to apply.
Key facts
Who can do it: Any child born in 2011 who lives in NYC
Is it mandatory: No
Is it free: Yes, at programs offered by the NYC Department of Education
Are there special public programs for “Gifted & Talented” children: Not in Pre-K, but you can prepare for kindergarten Gifted and Talented admissions now
Are there bilingual programs or programs for English language learners: Yes
Are there special programs or help for disabled students or other special needs: Yes
Important future dates to prepare for now
Kindergarten enrollment
Gifted and Talented enrollment for kindergarten students
Related topics that might help you.

Other Internet resources
New York City Department of Education Pre-K enrollment page

More information about Gifted & Talented admissions.

Information on free afterschool and summer programs from the “Inside Schools” website (sponsored by the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School): Inside Schools Free Programs