National non-profit virtually prepares SD kids for kindergarten for free

National non-profit virtually prepares SD kids for kindergarten for free
Published: Aug. 8, 2021 at 8:52 PM CDT
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HARRISBURG, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A national non-profit is helping South Dakota families prepare their children for kindergarten through a free learning service.

A year ago, Alycia Brantz first heard of Waterford Upstart.

“You always worry that your kid’s not quite ready for kindergarten, and I didn’t want to have to worry about that so when I found out about this, I thought it was such a great opportunity,” said Brantz of Harrisburg.

Brantz’s son, Rourke Miller, used the Waterford Upstart program for 20 minutes a day throughout the last school year.

“I know that his math is going to be on point,” Brantz added.

Waterford Upstart is available for kids before entering kindergarten, to help teach them basic education prior to entering school.

“A federal grant is taking care of this so it costs these families nothing, but what we provide to every family is the adaptive software program that the child uses 15 minutes a day, the coach, the push notifications, and then for families that need it we will also provide a computer and internet access,” National Spokesperson Kim Fischer said.

However, the program isn’t a replacement for traditional education.

“We try to find whatever those gaps in early education are and we try to fill those. Obviously in South Dakota, the big gap is going to be in those rural communities,” Fischer added.

Now, one year later, Rourke has graduated from the Waterford Upstart program. He’s ready for kindergarten.

“I learn about science and math,” said Rourke Miller.

“It’s heartwarming actually as a mom because you’re not going to be there in the classroom with them. The opportunity to watch them work through some of this stuff at home, and see today it’s really frustrating but tomorrow he’s ticking off those numbers on his fingers and he knows exactly what he’s doing,” Brantz said.

Waterford Upstart says they’re looking to serve roughly 48,000 students nationwide this school year. Registration closes at the end of August. You can sign up here.

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