How to Apply to Kindergarten
In Philadelphia, children are eligible to attend kindergarten if they are five-years-old before September 1 of the year they are entering school. Parents can send their child to a variety of schools, including: public neighborhood, public charter, private independent or private Catholic. See our frequently asked questions below.
Navigating this process can be complicated, so parents should start planning for their child’s kindergarten experience a full year before their child turns five!
Attending your public neighborhood school is free. To apply, visit your local neighborhood school and register your child at least two weeks prior to the start of the school year. Kindergarten Registration for the 2018-19 school year will open January 16, 2018 and end May 31, 2018. Visit the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Early Childhood Education to learn more about policies and procedures.
Please be aware that slots can fill up quickly! To make sure your child has a space at your neighborhood school, register as early as possible. For children starting school in Fall 2018, registration will begin January 16, 2018. If your neighborhood school has reached registration capacity, then your child will be reassigned to the next closest district school that has available space. They will not be provided bussing in this case. Therefore, it is important to register as early as possible.
If you wish to send your child to a school other than your neighborhood school, you may complete a registration application and submit it to the School District of Philadelphia. The deadline for such applications for the 2018-19 school year is November 13, 2017.
Attending a public charter school is free. To apply, parents must submit an application by the school’s deadline. Many applications and deadlines can be found online by clicking on a school’s profile page. Alternatively, over 80 charter schools will be accepting the Philadelphia Charter School Standard Application this year. Click here to learn more about it, see a full list of participating schools, and download your copy today. Many of those charter schools have also agreed upon one of the two standard deadlines: January 31, 2018 or March 1, 2018. Click here to browse the deadlines of participating schools.
Schools that receive more applications than they have space for will hold lotteries to determine which students will be accepted into the program for the upcoming year. Though some schools have preference for students living in their neighborhood or with siblings already attending the schools, charter schools cannot consider things like preschool records or a family’s income. Most lotteries occur in the spring and many are open for you to attend.
After being selected, you will be asked to complete paperwork to enroll (see below). You can usually apply without having this paperwork already!
Families not chosen in the lottery may decide to remain on a wait-list and be notified as space becomes available.
Parents must submit an application and pay annual tuition in order to have their child attend a private school. Schools will notify you if your child has been accepted. Some schools may require a parent meeting or school tour before the application is complete.
There are many scholarship organizations and financial aid options available, as well as a small number of schools that are completely tuition-free. To learn more, see our article Paying for Private School.
Please note that many private independent schools begin in preschool and may have more space available for three or four year olds than for Kindergarten.
Parents must submit an online application and pay an annual tuition in order to have their child attend a Catholic school. Schools will notify you if your child has been accepted.
Some schools may require a parent meeting or school tour before the application is complete.
There are many scholarship and financial aid options available. Learn more about private schools, tuition and financial aid options here.
If Kindergarten is not legally required, why should my child enroll in a Kindergarten program?
Kindergarten provides the opportunity for students to start building the skills necessary to be successful in school. Additionally, if you suspect your child of having a disability, it’s best to enroll them in a kindergarten program so he or she can be evaluated and diagnosed as soon as possible. Lastly, the chances of getting into a top performing K-8 charter or special admissions school in our city are much greater in Kindergarten than in first grade due to available space. Learn more about top rated schools in our city here.
When do I need to register my child for kindergarten?
To enroll in a public neighborhood school, families must visit your local neighborhood school and register your child at least two weeks prior to the start of the school year. Kindergarten Registration for the 2018-19 school year will open January 16, 2018 and end May 31, 2018. Check this article frequently for updates on specific dates. Visit the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Early Childhood Education to learn more details about policies and procedures.
Please be aware that slots can fill up quickly. To make sure your child has a space at your neighborhood school, register as early as possible. If your neighborhood school has reached registration capacity, then your child will be reassigned to the next closest district school that has available space.
To apply for a public charter, private independent or private religious school, families must check individual schools’ application deadlines. Most charter school deadlines are in January through March. Frequently check the 2018-2019 charter school deadlines for updates. Review 2017-18 charter school deadlines here. The registration/enrollment process for charter schools occurs once a child has been accepted into the kindergarten program.
What’s the difference between applying and registering for a school?
For your zoned public neighborhood school, there is no application. Simply go to the school and register in person. If you wish to send your child to another public district school, you must fill out an application (found on the School District of Philadelphia’s website). You will be notified if your child has been accepted. Please note, the deadline for transfer applications for the 2018-19 school year is November 13, 2017.
For all other schools, a parent must first submit an application. You will begin the registration process if your child has been accepted into the kindergarten program.
Do I need any documentation to register my child?
Parents applying to a public district or public charter school must submit the following documents: child’s birth certificate, social security number, two proofs of address (ex. utility bill) and your child’s immunization records. Find more information on District registration here.
Private schools will require a parent to submit supporting documentation as well. Check with individual schools to determine what paperwork is required upon registration.
Can I afford a private school?
Many private schools offer their own financial aid and tuition assistance, but because aid is limited, it’s important to apply as early as possible. Find more about private school and financial aid options here.
In addition school-based financial aid, there are several organizations that offer financial support for families. Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia (CSFP) offers 4-year scholarships for students in grades K-8 for private school.
To apply, complete and submit an online application. The application period for the 2018-19 school year will open September 20, 2017 and will close March 1, 2018. Priority will be given to those who submit an application before November 15, 2017.