The academic year in South Africa runs from January to December and there are 4 terms a year.
Formal schooling starts when a child is 6 in a South African school but there are many pre-schools and nurseries/creches available including Montessori
The first decision you will face is what type of curriculum will suit your situation: International or South African?
There are many co-ed schools as well as single sex amongst the SA schools but international schools are all co-ed.
In Cape Town you can chose between French and German bilingual schooling, American, British, International Baccalaureate and South African curricula. If you are only going to be in the country for a set period of time (ie less than 5 years), then international schooling will give you a better chance of a smoother transition to your next country of residence.
If you are entering SA schooling for the first time and your child is under 12 then it is probable that they will need to learn Afrikaans as a second language.
If your children do not have SA passports or ID books then you will need to apply for a Study Permit. To do this you need an offer letter from your chosen school which will be non transferable should you switch schools at a later date.
It is advisable that you shortlist and select the school a year in advance to ensure you have the most choice as most schools do have wait lists.
If you are coming on a school visit then you will need copies of all your IDs, most recent school reports and a completed application form.