Like NAEYC, Waterford.org wants to see every child begin school with the knowledge they need to succeed. However, there are 2.2 million 4-year-olds—over half the 4-year-olds in the United States—who are un- or under-served by existing early education options. Barriers like transportation, rural locations or a lack of funding disproportionately impact at-risk populations. These families need help now; just because they do not have access to a high-quality preschool program does not mean they cannot have access to high-quality early education.
Waterford.org’s purpose has never been to replace existing PreK options or provide “a cheaper alternative to preschool.” In fact, our program has been used exactly how NAEYC describes: as a tool to help scaffold classroom experiences. In Wichita Falls, Texas, the school district is using Waterford UPSTART to fill early learning gaps, so all children have an early learning solution before kindergarten. We are also working directly with the National Head Start Association to find ways to boost academic learning and parent engagement.
Waterford.org wants to provide families the tools they need to prepare their children for the academic, social and relational interactions they will experience in school. Through Waterford UPSTART, we bring an early learning option into the home, empowering parents to help their children prepare for school. And Waterford UPSTART works. Based on rigorous, independent research, we know the average graduate begins kindergarten reading at a nearly first-grade level and demonstrates social-emotional development similar to their peers in private and public preschools.
Waterford.org believes we cannot wait to find a solution that checks every box. A child is only four once, and 2.2 million aren’t being properly served each year. It is critical that all families have access to solutions that work for them right now so that each child starts school with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.