The Greer Meister Group

An Inside Look at NYC Kindergarten Admissions Timelines

Everything you need to know about when to apply for private schools, public schools, microschools, and homeschooling in NYC

Disclaimer: Always confirm specific dates directly with the schools. Details may change without notice.

First, let’s look at when the admissions process begins for the different types of schools here in NYC:

  • The private school kindergarten admissions process begins 13 months before you hope to have your child start school.
  • Some microschools have year-round, rolling admissions. However, some of the more popular microschools follow the private school admissions calendar or one of their own design.
  • If you plan to homeschool your child, file your letter of intent with the Department of Education by July 1 for a September start or within two weeks of a mid-year start. You can find more information from the Department of Education Office of Home Schooling.
  • NYC public school general education programs, referred to as “gen ed,” take kindergarten applications in January for a September start. The Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to information on kindergarten admissions.
  • There are several other public school program options, each with a different timeline:
    • The application process for public school gifted and talented (G&T) programs begins in October when you sign up for testing. Your child’s score will determine whether you qualify to apply. However, a high score on the test does not guarantee admission to a G&T program or school. The Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to G&T admissions.
    • Public school dual-language program (DLP) applications get submitted at the same time as your gen ed applications, but if you’re applying as a native speaker of the non-English language, you’ll have an additional interview step later in the application process that isn’t necessary for your gen end applications.
    • Charter schools usually require applications in April for a September start. The Department of Education has a webpage dedicated to charter school admissions.
    • Please note that there are some programs, such as the Special Music School, that are exceptions to all of these timelines. Always check directly with the schools to be sure that you are following the correct application timelines and procedures.

Next, let’s look at when families are notified about placements:

  • Private schools notify families of acceptances (or waitlists or rejections) in February. You’ve spent months in the application process, and now you will have a few days to decide whether to accept any spots offered to your child. (We’ve put together a guide to help you make that decision.) Many NYC private schools are members of the Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York, which provides notification timelines.
  • Microschools have their own timelines for notifying families.
  • Homeschooling families will have to file additional paperwork throughout the year in order to maintain their homeschool status. You can find more information about those requirements on the Department of Education homeschooling webpage.
  • Notices of placements for NYC public school gen ed and dual language programs are given in March. However, this is only the first round of placements. When you apply, you rank multiple schools in order of preference. If you ranked any schools higher than the one where you were placed, you will be on their waitlists. The waitlists will move from April until October. Here is why…
    • Charter school acceptances usually go out later in April than gen ed and DLP acceptances.
    • G&T program acceptances usually go out in June.

When any family gives up a gen ed spot to accept a spot at a charter school or in a G&T program, their child’s former gen ed spot gets offered to someone on the waitlist. If that waitlisted student takes the newly opened spot, than the spot that she vacates is offered to another waitlisted child, and so on. Factor in families who move over the summer and families that opted for private school but didn’t notify their public school placement, and you’ve got waitlist movement from April until October. You may even get accepted at your first-choice school after the school year has already started.

Now, let’s look carefully at the timelines for families who intend to apply to both private and public schools:

What do you notice?

You have to accept or decline your private school offers before you find out about your public school placement. It is very difficult to keep both private and public school options open because of the disparate timing of the admissions processes.

One last note for families considering public schools in NYC:

Check out InsideSchools. It is a project of the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School that provides independent information about NYC public schools. As they say in their mission, test scores don't tell the whole story.

The InsideSchools team visits hundreds of schools annually and interviews thousands of faculty members, students, and parents in addition to analyzing Department of Education data including annual school surveys of teacher, parent, and student satisfaction; formal evaluations by trained educators; annual Comprehensive Educational Plans written by faculty; attendance records; test scores; teacher turnover; demographics; disciplinary actions; graduation rates; and college attendance rates. It is a valuable resource for families considering NYC public schools.