11 Tips for NYC Kindergarten Applications

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Applying for kindergarten at NYC independent and private schools seems complicated, especially if you didn't grow up here. Or even if you did! This journey requires planning, patience, and persistence. Here are our top tips for navigating the process with a bit more ease and organization.

1. Narrow your list of kindergartens.

You don’t want to end up applying to 20 schools when only 10 would be suitable for your child. Make the process easier by learning about the many curriculum styles in New York City. Traditional, progressive, Montessori: schools have varying types of approaches to learning.

Are you looking for single-sex or coed? Do you want a school affiliated with a synagogue or a church? The more knowledge you have about the different types of programs, the easier it will be to narrow your list to match what your child needs.

2. Look at independent school websites.

Look at schools’ websites. Start with the Parents League list of schools, which provides links to over 150 NYC independent school websites.

3. Register for school virtual open houses.

Check school websites for updates. Parents League collects dates for virtual open houses, info sessions and tours on our frequently updated calendar of virtual school events.

4. Create a list of eight to ten independent schools to consider.

Speak with someone who knows the environment and culture of the school. Parents League advisors visit NYC independent schools and meet with heads and admissions directors. They can provide insights to help better match your family with the right school.

5. Speak with your Preschool Director.

If your child is in a preschool now, the director may provide help finding a kindergarten. They know your child and your family and can help point you in the right direction.

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6. Download applications online ASAP.

Depending on the school, you’ll be able to request an application by phone or download it from its website in the summer or early fall. Use a chart to keep track of applications and deadlines.

7. Submit applications early.

Many schools will only schedule tours and interviews after you have completed an application, so get them in early in order to schedule those dates!

8. Prepare for school visits and interviews

Often there is a tour for parents and a separate visit for your child. Watch our video: How to Prepare for a Kindergarten Interview with Gina Malin, Executive Director, Parents League of New York and Ellen Birnbaum, Director of Early Childhood Programs, The 92nd Street Y.

Topics covered:

  • What can parents do at home to prepare for their child's visit to an independent school?
  • How should they describe the visit to their child?
  • What types of activities will children be doing during the kindergarten interview?

Ellen Birnbaum, Director of Early Childhood Programs at the 92nd Street Y answers these questions and more.

9. Don’t wait on financial aid.

If you are applying for financial aid, do so when you apply. Schools need to know how much financial aid funding to allocate to families. Not sure if you qualify? Speak to a Parents League advisor about the process. Look to websites for helpful guides and tips.

10. Consider early notification if you have siblings or legacies.

If your child is a sibling or legacy at a school, let the school know if you wish to be included in its optional early notification for legacies program. If your child is accepted, you are then obliged to attend that school and withdraw your applications at all other schools.

11. Mark your calendar for notification and reply dates.

 Find out when schools will notify you about acceptances and when you'll need to reply to them.

Getting your child into the right kindergarten is a big deal. By planning ahead and not waiting until the last minute you will certainly feel more confident and  in control of this process. If you are still confused or need help, contact us to set up your appointment with an experienced Parents League school advisor so we can support you with this important step in your child’s educational journey.