Addressing COVID Learning Loss: Free At-home Summer Program Prepares Missouri Children for Kindergarten

Kimberly Flores
Public Relations Manager

Early education nonprofit provides computer, internet and support for parents at no cost

(Jefferson, MO) May 7, 2021 – The COVID-19 pandemic left many families without an early education option in the crucial months before their children begin kindergarten. In order to ensure Missouri children are prepared for that first day of school this fall, Waterford.org is providing the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path at no cost to families to keep kids on track over the summer. This program seeks to support the students and families who have been affected by COVID-19 either through personal economic hardship or due to the indefinite closure of many PreK and Head Start options.

“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 cofounder. “Thanks to our generous philanthropic partners, hundreds of Missouri 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.”

With the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path, parents receive weekly calls from a personal coach. Additionally, notifications through Waterford’s app let them know what their child is learning and suggest ways to engage together offline. Children use Waterford Upstart’s personalized online program 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week during the condensed summer program. This 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. Laptops and internet access will also be provided at no cost to those families who need them.

“As a teacher I like the data, how easy it is to see what she’s performing at, and also the resources,” said Beth Deppe of East St. Louis, whose daughter is currently using Waterford Upstart. “She started off a little hesitant to read. She would get frustrated easily, but with more and more practice she’s learning to love it and now that she’s actually reading real books! She wants to read all the time now.”

This is the second year Waterford.org has provided the Summer Learning Path program to families across the country. Results show the program works! In the summer of 2020, more 13,000 children across nine states registered for the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path. Using the software five days a week over the course of 13 weeks, children achieved an average grade equivalence of “Kindergarten Advanced” level—which is where most children score at the end of their kindergarten year.

This year, the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning path will be available to 700 families across Missouri at no cost. To apply for this free program or to learn more, click here.

About Waterford.org

Waterford.org is an education nonprofit with a mission to achieve universal literacy for children through equity, access, and parent empowerment. Waterford develops educational tools that guide students along adaptive, individualized learning paths toward fluent reading and lifelong learning. Waterford empowers parents as a child’s first teacher and supports teachers in taking the right actions at the right time for their students. Currently, Waterford.org serves over 300,000 children across 43 states every year. Waterford.org is a BBB Accredited Charity with programs supported by a variety of governmental and philanthropic organizations, including support from a federal EIR grant, The Studio @ Blue Meridian, and TED’s Audacious Project.