AWNY Mums & Dads Update + An Inside Guide to NYC Kindergarten Admissions

Written by Anita Davison & Ella Colley

With Halloween out of the way and enough sugar consumed to last until next years ‘Trick or Treat’ festivities, November is here and the holiday season is upon us. Unlike the last couple of years, we have had a really lovely month of weather in October, with temps in the low 20s and the beautiful fiery colors of Autumn (ahem, Fall) to captivate us in and out of this great city.

Whilst we prep for Thanksgiving, Christmas and visits back to Oz to more sunshine and warmth (you lucky things!), this year some of us have another task at hand. The Kindergarten admissions process is underway for 2016, with school tours, interviews and all that goes along with it already in the works for thousands of children across NYC.

We’ve had some interest from the Mums & Dads group about both Pre-K & Kindergarten admissions in NYC. Although we did not have enough numbers to warrant a full event (which we will look at hosting next year), we have invited a fellow Aussie expat, Ella Colley of to give us some tips and important information on the Kindergarten application process for 2016/2017 school year. We will follow this up in the new year with a second piece on the ins and outs of the Pre-K application process.


An Inside Guide to NYC Kindergarten Admissions

Inside Schools

Tips from, compiled by Australian expat Ella Colley

The New York City school system is complicated, with some of the best—and worst—schools in the country. At, we offer a free and independent online guide to help you navigate the public school system, and find the right school for your child.

This year, families of children born in 2011 will apply to kindergarten between Dec. 7 and Jan. 15, with notifications set to come out in mid-March. What does this means? It’s time to get serious about kindergarten admissions. Grab a cuppa, take a deep breath, and read on. I’ll do my best to keep this short and sweet.

The Basics

Some neighborhoods have excellent zoned schools, and all you need to do to enroll is show up with proper documents. However, some very popular schools are so overcrowded that they cannot accommodate all the kids who live in their zone and the schools have waiting lists.

If this is the case where you live, or if you’re not keen on your neighborhood school, you may want to explore other options. The city has an extensive system of school choice, and, depending on the age of your child and where you live, you may have a number of alternatives. You can read about other options like gifted programs and charter schools on our website.

To make things a little more complicated – a few districts have abandoned zoned schools: Districts 1 on the Lower East Side, District 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in East New York, Brooklyn. In these areas, you can apply to any school in the district and admission is decided by lottery.

Where to start?

Start by finding out what your zoned school is on the DOE website. Do your research – at we have a profile for every school in the city, with independent reviews, photos and statistics to help you get a feel for a school before you get in the building.

If you’re not happy with what you see, look further. The school search on our homepage allows you to look for schools by neighborhood or other categories. You can also read about each school district by clicking on the colored map on the homepage. There’s specific information for you about things like special education, and supports for English language learners.

To guide families through the admissions process, the DOE will host info sessions in each borough starting in early December. Kindergarten handbooks are available online or at schools. The DOE website has a list of individual school tours and open houses that will continue to be updated. Keep checking back and contact schools about tours directly. Look at school websites or call the parent coordinator. Some schools don’t organize group tours but may offer a one-on-one tour if you ask.

Before you go on a tour, watch our video about what to look for and read our tips about choosing a school on the elementary school page.

Ready to apply?

The Department of Education’s Kindergarten Connect process allows you to apply online, over the phone, or in person at a Family Welcome Center with a single application. Parents can apply to up to 12 schools, ranking them in order of preference. If you don’t get your top choice you will be automatically waitlisted at all the schools you ranked higher on the application.

The application for charter schools is separate, and is due on April 1. You can apply for any charter school in the city—with preference given to applicants who live in the district where the charter school is located—and admission is based on a lottery. Private schools manage their own admissions, but be aware that many want parents to make a commitment (often with a non-refundable deposit) before public school decisions are available.

The Gifted & Talented process can drag on until June and beyond by the time all students are placed. If you want your child to test for Gifted and Talented, you need to sign up by NOVEMBER 9! Read more about the process here.

It’s time to dig in … your adventure in NYC public schools is about to begin!

Like us on Facebook for updates, follow us on Twitter and drop us a line if you have questions. You’ll hear from us in a couple of months with a blog on pre-kindergarten admissions.

Upcoming Mum’s & Dad’s Events

Our regular dinner and drink evenings will return in November. Please keep an eye on the Facebook page for a dinner event invitation in the coming week.

Events around New York City

We’ve compiled a great list of events and activities around New York for the month of November 2015 – check it out for fun ways to spend time with your kids.

Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.

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