Zoned, Neighborhood, and Community Schools (K-5)

  • Children turning 5 years of age by December 31 of the school year are eligible for Kindergarten. Public Kindergarten in NYC is offered for a full school day, typically 8:40 a.m.-2:50 p.m.
  • Kindergarten attendance is optional in NYC however children must enroll in school by the 1st Grade.
  • Most elementary schools house grades K to 5th grade or K to 6th grade. There are however both well-established and new schools that are structured differently and serve children in grades K-8 or K-12.
  • Children are typically assigned to schools based on their home address. These schools, known as zoned schools, serve all children in the designated catchment area. You can find your zoned school on the NYC Department of Education's website.
  • The quality and tone of zoned schools can vary widely. During the elementary school years, however, the majority of families are comfortable with their children attending their zoned neighborhood school.
  • Families have the opportunity to seek other options other than their zoned school and apply to have their children evaluated for public gifted and talented programs, identify bi-lingual or dual language programs, or consider charter schools in their neighborhoods or elsewhere.

Application Process

Families seeking a seat for their Kindergarten-aged child must apply for school during the designated period, usually January through February. Notification of placement follows a month later.

The NYC Department of Education policy is that all students zoned for a particular school will be guaranteed a seat in that school. However, in those cases when there are more applicants than seats available, a lottery is held to determine those children to be admitted and placed during this initial phase. Children who are not picked from the lottery will be:

  • Placed on a waitlist
  • Assigned to an annex of the desired zoned school, or
  • Referred to the Office of Student Enrollment which may place students to another school within the district.

Parents can apply to all schools they are interested in however in most instances placement is prioritized as outlined on the Department of Education website.

Children Entering Grade 1-5

If your child is trying to enroll in the zoned school during a year other than Kindergarten, you may do so when you arrive in NYC or in advance of the start of the school year. In those instances when your zoned school is over-crowded and unable to welcome all of the students in the catchment area, families will be referred to the Office of Student Enrollment which may direct new students to another school in the district. Your zoned school will provide you with this information at the time you register. See New to NYC.

Timeline for Applying to Kindergarten


  • Identify your zoned school and schedule a tour.
  • Tour other schools of interest. Learn each school's specific admission process for families who reside outside the zone or district.
  • To find open house/tour schedules, call the individual schools, visit their websites, or visit Inside Schools for a listing of scheduled events.


  • Submit the Kindergarten application on-line or directly at your zoned school or otherwise specified by your School District or the NYC Department of Education.


  • Receive notification from zoned school.

Go to the school with your child to register. Be sure that your child comes with you and bring the following documentation:

  • Your child's original birth certificate, passport, or baptismal certificate
  • Your child's immunization record (PDF)
  • Your child's most recent transcript or report card, or IEP, if applicable
  • Two proofs of address: an original Electric Bill (Con Edison), a deed to your home or a letter from your employer verifying your home address. If the cost of electricity is included in your rent, you must secure a letter from the real estate management company.