Free summer learning program for students starting kindergarten

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COLORADO — Good news for Colorado parents – a free, summer learning program is coming to the state. The Upstart Summer Learning Path was born out of this pandemic after schools closed, but it’s here to stay as a free learning option for families.

If your child is starting kindergarten next year, this program will focus on activities and skills to get them ready. The 13-week program starts June 1st and runs through the end of August.

Only 250 spots are left for Colorado kids starting kindergarten this upcoming school year. You can register in minutes online by clicking here.

“This is something that can really change your child’s life and it costs you absolutely nothing,” said Kim Fischer, National Spokesperson for Waterford.org. “There are plenty of children out there who probably need an educational boost over the summer. Our philanthropic partners came to us and said there are going to be so many kiddos that are not going to be prepared for kindergarten. What can we do?”

The milestone of starting kindergarten has been challenging during the pandemic. The Upstart Summer Learning Program stepped in last summer to help students. And this summer, the national organization, Waterford.org, is expanding the program to 8 more states including Colorado.

“We have an adaptive program that children will use 20 minutes a day 5 days a week. They’ll learn things like letter recognition, phonics, and all those things build up to preparing them for kindergarten,” said Fischer.

Waterford.org even provides a laptop and internet access at no cost. The ideal families for this program are those facing economic barriers or a lack of education options.

“They’re struggling with their letter recognition, they aren’t quite stringing their letters together yet, maybe they don’t know their numbers or colors. Those are the kids that we really, really want to leave these slots open for,” said Fischer.

Through the Upstart Summer Learning Path, parents are given tools to engage with their child off the screen and follow their progress through the program.

“We take a holistic approach to helping the child learn. That includes a coach for families. They get push notifications to understand how they can engage with their children off-line. So it’s not just that 20 minutes, they are plenty of resources for participating families to use,” said Fischer.

The program also allows students to achieve the number of program minutes necessary to be kindergarten ready and still falls well within the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and World Health Organization’s recommendations of no more than one hour of screen time per day for four-year-old children.

Waterford.org is a national early education non-profit organization. They focus on providing the foundation of literacy for children, ages Pre-K through 6th grade. Currently, Waterford.org serves over 300,000 children across 43 states every year.

“In the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, an at-home solution like the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path has proven to be not only effective in educating our youngest learners, but also a necessity for many families,” said Claudia Miner, Waterford Upstart executive director and co-founder. “Thanks to our generous philanthropic partners, hundreds of Colorado families won’t have to worry about the learning loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. They can feel confident their children will walk into their first day of kindergarten prepared and ready to learn.”

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