With the April 5 deadline for pre-kindergarten applications fast approaching, parents across the city who are taking on the process can sometimes find it difficult to navigate.

The city’s Department of Education (DOE) is urging parents with children who are turning 4 in 2012 to consider pre-K. The department says that pre-K is important for building the foundation of a child’s future success.

Pre-K programs are available at public elementary schools and community-based organizations, which have separate application processes.

“Over the course of the school year, your child will develop basic literacy and math skills. He or she also will learn how to share, take turns, work in groups, think creatively and solve problems,” the department said.

Known as universal pre-kindergarten programs, the city offers half-day programs, which are two and a half hours, and full-day programs, which are six and a half hours. Public school and community-based organization programs are listed in the DOE’s annual pre-K directory.

The directory lists school names, locations and indicates whether it is a half-day or full-day program, along with the number of slots available in each program.

Parents can apply for pre-K online at www.nyc.gov/schools/prek or can enroll in person at a local enrollment office.

While making a decision on a school, the DOE encourages families to visit programs and find a school near them by using the website.

“We recommend that you call schools of interest to schedule time for a visit. You can find school contact information in this directory. It’s important to visit schools so that you can determine travel time from your home,” the DOE said. “There is no transportation provided by the Department of Education for pre-kindergarten students.”

Students are admitted to city public schools’ pre-K programs based on admission priorities that include location and verified siblings already at the school. Community-based organizations’ programs priorities vary and are typically on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pre-K placement is not guaranteed. If there are more students applying than there are available seats within a priority group, there will be a random assignment process for the available seats. Placement in a pre-kindergarten program in a school does not provide priority for a kindergarten placement in that school for the following school year.

The application deadline for public schools is April 5, while community-based organizations have rolling deadlines.