How to Register Your 4-Year-Old for School in Boston

how to register 4 year old preschool school UPK boston


In the City of Boston, it's never too early to think about school options for your child. Whether you're interested in public, charter, or private school options, many schools accept students as young as 4 years old, and some even as young as 3 years old.

In Boston, these earliest learners have their own pre-K grades grouped by age: K0 for 3-year-olds and K1 for 4-year-olds. (K2 is the grade commonly associated with a traditional kindergarten grade for entering 5-year-old students).

Why You Should Register Your 3- or 4-Year-Old for School

This age group is also one of the largest entry points into Boston Public Schools, meaning there is a large number of 4-year-olds all trying to get seats into great-fit schools. Thus, it's critical to register your 4-year-old for every school option available to your family.

Remember: you can register your child for any school seat they get in Boston, but that doesn't mean you have to enroll your child at the school they received a seat. At Boston School Finder, we like to remind families that you can always turn down a seat you receive, but you can't turn down a seat you don't have.

In addition to K0 and K1 options via BPS, Boston has also made a commitment to offer UPK—Universal Pre-Kindergarten—seats for children who are 4 years old. While the number of UPK seats can be limited, the City announced in April 2019 it had committed $15 million to create an additional 750 high-quality UPK seats in Boston for 4-year-olds for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Seats in Boston's UPK program are FREE to Boston families and serviced by Community Based Organizations (CBOs). Participating UPK programs align with existing BPS curriculum and standards for K1 seats at BPS schools; teachers at participating CBOs are also trained and certified in this curriculum. 

How to Register Your 4-Year-Old for School in Boston

Choosing a great-fit school for your child is one of the most important decisions you can make as a parent—and we believe it's important families get their child into a great-fit school as early as they can. Read on for how to register and apply to all of the options available for 4-year-olds in Boston.

In Boston Public Schools

Currently, there are 78 BPS schools that offer K1 seats for students who will be 4 years old by Sep. 1, 2020. As there are a limited number of K0 and K1 seats available, we recommend every family with a 4-year-old register for a K1 BPS seat during their Priority Registration round.

For Grades K0 and K1, families must register by Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 to qualify for BPS Priority Registration. 

(Families can still register for K0 and K1 seats after the deadline, but it is highly unlikely there will be seats left if they do.)

At UPK Community-Based Organizations

There are a limited number of FREE seats for 4-year-olds throughout Boston as part of the UPK program. 

To enroll your child at a UPK-affiliated CBO for the 2020-2021 school year: 

  1. Your child must be 4 years old by Sep. 1, 2020.
  2. Complete this UPK Interest Form online
  3. Contact Joelle Auguste, Boston UPK Family Engagement & Comprehensive Services Manager for Boston Public Schools, to discuss your available UPK options. Her email is and her phone number is 617-635-9063.
  4. To learn more about Boston's UPK program, please visit the Boston Public Schools Department of Early Childhood website

At Commonwealth Charter Schools

Currently, there are 6 Commonwealth Charter schools that offer K1 seats for 4-year-olds. These are free, public schools that are not part of the Boston Public Schools district.

Placement at Commonwealth Charter schools is determined by lottery.

To apply for the Charter School Lottery, families must complete the Charter School Lottery Application online by Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

Most charter schools run their lotteries and post results on Friday, Mar. 6, 2020. (Please check our School Registration Enrollment Calendar for individual charter school lottery dates.)

At Private Religious-Affiliated Schools

There are at least 18 private religious schools that offer seats for 4-year-olds; many Catholic schools have seats for 3-year-old children and younger.

Also known as parochial schools, Boston has a number of private religious-affiliated schools, including a large number of Catholic schools. While private religious-affiliated schools cost money to attend, many of these schools offer financial aid and/or scholarships to students. Some Catholic schools are free or offer subsidized, income-dependent tuition.  

To register and enroll your 4-year-old at one of these schools, please contact individual schools directly. You can use our School Finder tool to get their contact information.

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