Free summer learning program looking for preschoolers

Local News

A free summer learning program is accepting enrollment applications. It’s called Waterford Upstart.

The program provides families with a computer, internet access and software. The goal is to have more than 700 preschool-aged children in Illinois ready by the fall — and 250 have already signed up.

Waterford Upstart — a national education non-profit — is dedicated to developing accessible and high-quality learning programs for all children, regardless of background or means — ensuring all children have the opportunity for success.

Preschool is not always a major priority. But as time goes on, their children will eventually have to start learning somewhere.

“We were once thought of as babysitters, but now research has found out that the early years are the most important years for children ages three to five,” said Pat Allison, Skip-A-Long Child Services Director.

Waterford Upstart national spokesperson Kim Fischer tells me some families are wanting to help their child succeed, but they don’t know how.

“We give families a coach so that they engage with their child offline. We give them fun resources that they can use because what we find is a lot of families want to help their child, they just don’t know exactly what that looks like and so we provide all of those tools necessary to make it easy for them to do,” said Fischer.

During those early years, children will learn everything from the letters of the alphabet to the colors of the rainbow.

One mother, whose 7-year-old son was a part of the summer learning path, has a clear message for parents thinking about using this resource.

“Don’t miss this opportunity,” Yadira Gomez said. “As a mom, I think it is the best program. I recommend it, they are attentive, provide excellent service, they have an open schedule. I call and they answer. They have good people there.”

And the opportunity thanks to philanthropic donations that will come at no cost to families and is pretty simple to enroll your child.

The deadline to register for the program is May 31. Around that time, the organization hopes to release last year’s findings of the program’s success rates, which will be used to incorporate new education strategies and build from the models.

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