I answered a question on Park Slope Parents about a child with a late fall birthday whose parents were interested in waiting a year for kindergarten. It seemed to be helpful so I am posting it here.
The age cut off in NYC is Dec. 31. Any child that turns five years from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 is eligible for kindergarten. Some parents feel that their children are not ready for kindergarten at five and want to wait to enroll them in public school. Starting a six year old child in kindergarten is not completely the parent’s choice. The principals may entertain the conversation if the child has a very late birthday (like the last week in Dec.). The principals are not trying to be rigid (they really care about your child’s education) they have seen a lot of children and there are reasons to keep the kids within a years range of each other. Someone has to be the youngest. The chancellor’s guidelines http://schools.nyc.gov/RulesPolicies/ChancellorsRegulations/default.htm are vague. A child is required to attend the appropriate class at 6 years old. Since the age cutoff is Dec. 31 it implies first grade. Kindergarten is the first academic year (no longer play-based) in public school but it is not a mandated grade. It is common practice for there to be enough seats in the k classes for everyone in the zone, but the desire to keep classes small makes it hard to find seats in very sought after schools when you are not in the regular age cohort.
It is up to the principal if there will be a seat in k at 6 years. It may also depend on available seats. Trying to work the private and public school admissions together is a very difficult thing. The problem starts with the different age cut off dates and then you have to contend with the different program notification dates (when they tell you that you have been accepted). The Chancellor’s regulations do say that if you are entering the NYC public school system from another city or a private school that the child will be placed in the appropriate grade. They will not arbitrarily move a child ahead a grade just because of their age. For example, if a child is 7 years and has completed k they won’t place him in second grade just because 7 years is when the rest of the city’s children are in second grade.
There are no age exceptions made for public school prek programs or gifted and talented.