In Philadelphia, children are eligible to attend Kindergarten when they are five-years-old. They can attend a variety of schools, including: public neighborhood, public charter, private independent or private Catholic. Parents should start planning for their child’s Kindergarten experience a full year before they turn five!
If you have children younger than four, check out our Preschool and Daycare articles.
Attending your public neighborhood school is free. To enroll, you can complete the process entirely online. There are four ways to register: online, by phone, in-person, and by drop-box. See this one-pager for more information on each method. To register for the current school year, visit the School District’s website.
View profiles for Kindergarten in Public District schools. To find your neighborhood school, visit the School District’s School Finder.
In order to register online, prepare beforehand and have electronic copies of all the the paperwork needed:
- Proof of your student’s age (ex. birth certificate, passport, medical record with student’s date of birth)
- Two (2) documents showing your current address (ex. valid state drivers or photo identification, lease, deed, or utility bill under your name)
- Immunization records (click here for a list of requirements)
- Parent/Guardian Photo ID (recommended, but not required)
Note: Be sure to keep your provided application number in a safe place, as you may need it later if you choose to resubmit your application.
Once you’ve gathered your information, visit the registration portal and begin your application.
- See an instructional video that clarifies the application process.
- See a step-by-step help guide
- For more information on how to enroll your child in your local neighborhood school, view the District’s guidelines.
- If you have additional questions, please contact The Office of Student Enrollment & Placement at 215-400-4290 or read the Kindergarten FAQ’s.
If you are a parent or guardian of a students whose primary language is other than English, or a potential English Learner (ELs), The Multilingual Assessment Center (MAC) is ready to help!
- Contact the MAC by phone at 215-400-4240 (Option 1), by email at [email protected], or via this form.
- To access the District’s registration flyer is 10 different languages, click here.
If you wish to send your child to a school other than your neighborhood school, you must complete an application as part of the school selection process the following school year.
Attending a public charter school is free. To apply, parents must submit a simple application by the school’s deadline. Many charter schools use Apply Philly Charter, an application for multiple schools at once!
To enroll your student for the following year, the application opens on September 24, 2021 and closes on January 24, 2022. Other charter school applications and deadlines can be found online by clicking on a school’s profile page. View profiles for Kindergarten in public charter 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 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 an 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. View profiles for Kindergarten in Private Independent schools.
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. View profiles for Kindergarten in Private Catholic schools. Learn more at Scholarships for Private High Schools in Philadelphia
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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 following school year typically opens in January. 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 on January 24, 2022, though others in March of 2022. 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 to a school?
For your zoned public neighborhood school, there is no application. Simply go to the school and register your child in person. If you would like to send your child to another public district school, you must fill out an application as part of School Selection. You will be notified if your child has been accepted. The School Selection application typically opens in September and closes in November.
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 record Find more information on District registration .
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?
Most private schools offer their own financial aid and tuition assistance. It’s important to note that schools have a limited supply of financial aid that they give out each year. Due to this, it’s very important to apply for financial aid as early as possible. Find more about private school and financial aid options here.
In addition school-based financial aid, there are several local organizations that provide financial support for children from low-income families.
The Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia (CSFP) offers four-year scholarships for students in grades K-8 to attend a private school. CSFP is the largest provider of K-8th grade scholarships in Pennsylvania and is partnered with over 160 participating schools.
The maximum scholarship awarded is $2,500 per family. Families contribute a minimum of $500 per year, with the average family paying approximately $1,800 annually. If you are selected, up to three children in your family may receive CSFP scholarship awards.
To apply, complete and submit an online application. Every parent who completes and submits the application by the deadline will be entered into CSFP’s random lottery.
The application period for the 2022-23 school year opens in mid-September and will close March 1, 2021. Priority will be given to those who submit an application before mid-November 2021.
We update this article as new information arrives so make sure to check back. If you see information that’s missing or incorrect, please email us [email protected]
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