Early Education Available for Ohio 4-Year-Olds


Ohio children now have an option to prepare for kindergarten at home at no cost to families.

(Columbus, OH) Nov. 8, 2021With preschool enrollment at its lowest nationwide in 25 years, state leaders are hoping a new partnership with nonprofit Waterford.org will increase school readiness across the state. Ohio families with 4-year-old children are being encouraged to register for the Waterford Upstart program. Research shows the average graduate will walk into kindergarten prepared to learn on the first day of school.

Four-year-old Jenesis Whites is using Waterford Upstart in Columbus. Her mom, Mykilah Grayson, said she’s liking what she’s seeing.

“Jenesis, she’s really getting going with the program,” Grayson said. “It’s really easy for her. … We’re working it out.”

“Years of rigorous research proves the Waterford Upstart program is an effective way to get children ready for kindergarten,” said Kim Fischer, the national spokesperson for Waterford.org. “When a child begins school behind his or her peers, it’s so hard to catch up. That’s why the state has partnered with our nonprofit organization to provide this equitable solution for Ohio families.”

When Waterford Upstart is used routinely 15 minutes a day, five days a week, students, on average, enter kindergarten reading at nearly a first-grade level. They also maintain those gains through fourth grade, according to independent analysis.

Columbus City Schools, the largest school system in Ohio, has also partnered with Waterford.org to provide Waterford Upstart to 4-year-old students who are not attending classes in brick-and-mortar schools.

“We have been utilizing the Waterford.org software in classrooms, so extending the program to future Columbus City Schools students made sense,” said Dr. Talisa Dixon, the school system’s superintendent and CEO. “We see how well the program works for children in school, and we want to give families that aren’t able to enroll in our early childhood program an academic resource they can use in their homes. We want our youngest learners to be as prepared as possible to start kindergarten in the fall. Ages 3 through 8 are critical in the educational development for children, and we remain committed to providing high-quality early childhood education to prepare our students for kindergarten and beyond.”

Not only will Waterford Upstart help 4-year-olds develop foundational reading skills and social-emotional strength, parents are given the tools they need to become their child’s first and most influential teacher. The software personalizes instruction by recognizing when students need to spend more time in a particular subject area. Phone calls from family coaches provide teaching tips to parents and other caregivers, as well as educational activities that fuel family engagement both on and off the computer. There is no cost to families for any of that. Those needing a computer or internet can have it provided at no cost, as well, when they apply at Waterford.org/upstart or call 888-982-9898.


Waterford.org is an early education nonprofit with a mission to achieve universal literacy for children through equity, access and parent empowerment. The organization develops educational tools that guide students along adaptive, individualized learning paths toward fluent reading and lifelong learning. Waterford empowers parents as the first teacher for their children and supports teachers in taking the right actions at the right time for their students. The organization serves more than 300,000 children every year through all of its programs, and that number is growing.


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