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How to Find a School and Enroll Your Child

Although public schools are available to any child who lives within the residential boundaries of the school, it’s important to start the process of finding and enrolling your child for TK or kindergarten early. There are some key things parents and children need to know.

7 Students in class excited raising hands

Once you know if your child is eligible for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) or kindergarten, you’ll want to find out what your local school district and other schools offer in terms of school options and enrollment periods. For example, some school districts provide TK classes only at certain schools.

It’s never too early to start looking at what your local schools can provide. Preparing your child for school includes getting to know your local schools and available options. You may choose your neighborhood “assigned” school, or consider other schools based on their specialties and programs. The public-school system has a variety of options that vary by county and district. For example, some school districts have science magnet schools or schools that specialize in the arts. Learn more about what programs are available for your child by contacting your local school district or going to your local school and asking for more information. There are also private schools that you may want to consider for your child.

Schools and school districts often hold informational sessions for incoming students and families. Be sure to ask about the process for requesting a specific school for your child to attend if you’ve found an option that you think would be a great fit for your child. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to make the best school choice for your child.

Enrollment for TK or kindergarten usually starts in March of the year before your child starts school and continues throughout the school year. You’ll need to visit your child’s school to pick up and complete an enrollment packet which typically includes:

  • A request for up-to-date vaccine records

  • Proof of residency

  • Medical/dental forms

  • Emergency forms

  • Informational questionnaires

If your child has special needs, some school districts provide certain services at specific schools. Remember, the school district must conduct its own assessment to help determine a child’s needs and appropriate services. If your child received preschool special education services, then by California law, the school district must conduct a Kindergarten Transition assessment before your child enters TK or kindergarten to help the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team determine the right placement and services for your child in TK/kindergarten.

Get started on your public school research here and here.

Parent Tip: Be sure to enroll your child as early as possible to avoid a late start to the school year. The first days of school are an important period when everyone is learning and adjusting together. Schools are often closed during the summer, so be sure to complete your child’s enrollment before the school year starts.

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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