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Elementary Schools in NYC

Enrolling in the best elementary schools in NYC

Likely you have questions and concerns as you approach elementary school placement in New York City. This is a huge and complicated market. It is also an intensely competitive market. You are searching among elementary schools in New York for the program that will offer your student a solid foundation for all future studies. Yet you also want to make sure that your student enjoys the camaraderie of her classmates and that your family feels at home in the school community. You have to think about the location and source a school that is convenient between home and work.

Some key points to consider when evaluating top elementary schools in NYC

If you are considering a public school there are good programs among several neighborhoods that are named according to a number system “PS = Public School.” PS 321 or PS 107 are good examples in Brooklyn. Usually the process is straightforward. You move into a home, register your child online and enroll your child in your zoned neighborhood school. However, families may also enter the Department of Education application process if they wish to send their student to a different school. This is considerably more complicated with detailed guidelines published online. Priority is given to families already residing within their school zone and to siblings of enrolled students. Schools will only add your student’s name to the wait list when you have a home address within zone. Be sure to begin the process early, read all the regulations carefully, comply with deadlines and select several school options because you may not be offered a seat at your first choice school. Be sure to connect with the parent coordinator at your target school(s). They are terrific resources, well informed and helpful.

Thinking about top private elementary schools in NYC

As in any competitive schools market, there are several worthwhile principles to follow. Start your search early. Do your research. Make sure you meet all deadlines. Understand your student’s learner profile. More than ever, it is critical that you find schools that are truly a good fit for your student. These will be the schools that will want to accept your child. It will be a struggle and the admissions outcome will likely not be positive at schools where your student is not a good match and would not thrive.  Make sure you apply to enough schools. Include a sufficient number of schools that are accessible to your student.

Top private elementary schools in NYC require the AABL, Admissions Assessment for Beginning Learners from PreK-1, the ECAA, Early Childhood Admissions Assessment test for applicants grades 2-4 and the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) above grade four. AABL and ECAA are administered at the ERB (Education Records Bureau) office. The ISEE is offered at various testing sites around NYC. While extensive preparation and tutoring for the AABL and ECAA exams is discouraged, helping your student to understand the overall format and exam experience is useful. Best preparation comes from parents who encourage their children to actively engage with their environment and cultivate their innate reasoning powers and natural curiosity. For older elementary students, families should certainly prepare them for the ISEE. There are good guidebooks and tutoring options.

Best private elementary schools in NYC include those with the K-12 format and those offering K-8. While some parents will consider only a K-12 school, preferring to tackle the admissions process only once, keep an open mind about K-8 programs. This will enlarge your field of options. Also your student will change as a learner and a different school at grade nine may be beneficial. In New York City most all-boys schools are K-9 and all-girls schools are K-12.

Here is a small sample of best elementary schools in NYC by neighborhood


  • Riverdale
  • Horace Mann
  • Fieldston

Park Slope

  • Private – Berkeley Carroll
  • PS 321

Brooklyn Heights

  • PS MS 8

Cobble Hill

  • PS 29

Carroll Gardens

  • PS 58

Upper East Side

  • Convent of the Sacred Heart
  • St David’s School
  • Dalton School
  • PS 59
  • PS 6
  • PS 183


  • World Class Learning Academy
  • Avenues, the World School
  • PS 3
  • PS 41

Battery Park

  • Leman Manhattan
  • Blue School
  • PS 234
  • PS 89

Down Town

  • Little Red Schoolhouse Elizabeth Irwin High School (LREI)
  • Avenues
  • Village Community School
  • PS 3
  • PS 41
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