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Waterford Upstart program wants to help Pre-K children with learning

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Getting your child up to speed with reading, writing and arithmetic before kindergarten starts is the goal of an early education non-profit in North Dakota.

Michelle Andersen is a mother in Fargo who says she once worried about her daughter’s early education.

“With my job working early, and my husband is working early, we just couldn’t take the time commitment to get her to head start, and then to pick her up just a few hours later,” said Michelle Andersen, Fargo.

A friend told her about Waterford Upstart, a free, online program that helps children with reading, math, and science before entering kindergarten.

Andersen says enrollment was easy and her daughter loved it.

“She was so ready for kindergarten even before she started, she was testing at early level 1st grade for math and science,” said Andersen.

Children use Waterford Upstart for fifteen minutes a day, five days a week from September through May. The program started in Utah and has expanded nationwide. They’re able to provide laptops to students needing them for access thanks to federal and state funding.

The program’s national spokesperson says the technology gap was especially evident during the height of the coronavirus.

“We started to see more states getting GEER funding for COVID, and they were using our program as COVID relief to try and get children prepared before they get into kindergarten,” said Kim Fischer, Waterford.org national spokesperson.

Kim Fischer says children enter kindergarten at different levels and research shows that children who start behind, often stay behind.

It’s why the early education curriculum is important, especially in more rural states like North Dakota where resources may not be close-by.

“You want them to be able to count to twenty, you want them to be able to start kind of stringing letters together even before they enter kindergarten,” said Fischer.

Waterford Upstart has been here for several years, and there’s currently about 730 kids enrolled. They would like to reach 1,200. The program has a team that aligns lessons with state standards.

If you are interested in enrolling your child, you can visit Waterford.org to sign up and see if you qualify.

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