Back to School in Boston

Taylor Yates  |  November 3, 2022

Monthly feature

Back to School in Boston

Time is ticking; realistically, in the great metropolitan area of Boston, it's never too early to prepare to register your child for Pre-K or Kindergarten. Most schools accept children starting at 4, while others have their minimum age at 3, so keep that in mind as you explore your local options. However, if your kiddo is approaching this age they will be ready to take the leap into their schooling, then it's time to explore your options and register while seats are still open – because they fill quickly!


Picking out the schools that you will apply your child to is exciting! The next chapter of their childhood is fast approaching. But remember, don’t rely on just one school, as seats can fill quickly, and spots are limited. Ensure you have plenty of options by applying to multiple pre-schools that meet your expectations. Remember, just because your child is accepted into a program does not necessarily mean that you have to enroll them in that specific program. If they get a seat in three schools, awesome! Having options is your best outcome.


As you review your local schools, you’ll likely have a public, charter, or local private school available, so you'll need to choose the best option for you and your family. Notably, the application process and timelines for these school systems changes, so get to know them now, so you're prepared for the upcoming deadlines.


Public Schools

Families looking to register their child in a K1 Boston Public School program for the coming school year should always aim to be a part of the Priority Registration round to ensure their child gets a seat. Missing this registration round could mean that there aren't any seats left at your local school. View the guide to registering your child in the BPS here.


If you didn’t know, in addition to K0 and K1 programs at Boston Public Schools, the city has also created Universal Pre-Kindergarten seats at several community organizations, which are open to a limited number of three-year-olds. However, UPK programs require children to be at least four by September 1, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Thus, it's essential to register your child as soon as possible. Learn more about the UPK program here.


Charter Schools

Charter schools tend to confuse a lot of parents. Are they public or private? How much do they cost?


Charter Schools are independent of the public school system but authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Education Reform Act of 1993. They are public schools that operate outside the Boston Public School System and are therefore free for students.


If you want your child to attend a charter school, it's important to note that placement is based on a lottery system, which needs to be applied for via the Boston Charter PublicSchool Lottery Application online application. This year, the lottery was held in March, so if you want to register your child for Pre-K at a charter school, you will need to wait until the next school year. 


If you live across the Charles River in Cambridge, these schools don’t fall under the same lottery as those in Boston. It’s important that you visit each school’s website independently for information on their application process.


ProspectHill Academy Charter School is one of Massachusetts’ top rated charter schools with Pre-K programs in their Somerville and Cambridge campuses. They prioritize learning, foster responsible citizenship, and have a roadmap to guiding students towards success in college. Admissions are based on a lottery process withrolling applications throughout the year.


The other top-rated Cambridge charter school is Benjamin Banneker Charter PublicSchool, which teaches K-6 with a commitment to excellence in science and mathematics. They also have a rolling online application process.


Private Schools

If you’re new to the Boston area, you might not know that there is a long history of private schools in our region, many of which have programs specifically designed to direct children into some of the most prestigious universities in the country.


Private pre-schools can range from being a part of larger elementary and high schools to small Montessori schools. They are scattered across the city, and their education programs and costs vary widely.


There are so many impressive private school options in Boston. If you’re leaning towards sending your child to a private academy, research your options and arrange visits with the campuses. This is your child’s first steps into an exciting academic future. You can see a detailed list of the Boston private school options here.


Don't forget, even if your child is still a year or two away from school, it's always a good idea to reach out to your local schools to start to understand their programs, when you need to get prepared to register, and which school options will best suit your child.

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