How to Register for Boston's Universal Pre-K (UPK) & Other School Options for Children Who Are 3 or 4 Years Old
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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.
Why You Should Register Your 3- or 4-Year-Old for School
This age group is 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.
How to Register Your 3- or 4-Year-Old for School in Boston
Boston's UPK Program
The City of Boston has made a commitment to offer free Universal Pre-Kindergarten- UPK - for children ages 3 and 4 living in the city, through a variety of settings: in BPS schools, Center-based providers, and Family Child Care providers.
All UPK programs are working to implement BPS curriculum. Taking a UPK seat for your child also gives your child priority for a kindergarten seat at a BPS school the following year through the UPK Connector System. Registering for UPK gives your child a better chance of getting placed at a BPS school of choice in the future.
UPK In Boston Public Schools
In BPS, K0 is the name of the grade for 3-year-olds and K1 is the grade for 4-year-olds. K2 is the traditional kindergarten grade for 5-year-old students.
For more information about registering for UPK in a BPS school, visit the UPK at BPS page here. Because there are a limited number of K0 and K1 seats available, we recommend every family with a 3- or 4-year-old register for a K1 BPS seat during their Priority Registration round.
UPK at Community Providers
There are additional UPK seats for 3- and 4-year-olds at Community Providers throughout Boston. For more information about registering for UPK at a community provider, visit the UPK Community Providers page here.
UPK at Family Child Care Providers
In an effort to make UPK accessible in more locations around the city and better serve families, UPK began being offered at family child care providers in 2023. For more information about registering for UPK at family child care providers, visit the UPK Family Child Care page here.
At Commonwealth Charter Schools
There are several Commonwealth Charter schools in Boston 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 Boston Charter Public School Lottery Application online by February 28. Boston’s charter public schools hold their lottery and notify students and families of their lottery results in early March. For more information, please read our How to Apply to Charter Schools guide.
At Private Religious-Affiliated Schools
There are many private religious schools that offer seats for 4-year-olds; many Catholic schools have seats for 3-year-old children and younger infants.
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. For more information, please read our How to Apply to Private Schools guide.
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