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Frequently Asked Questions


Why does eligibility vary from state to state?

We refer to Waterford Upstart in each state as a “program.” Each program has its own funding source. Funders range from state governments to private philanthropies. These funders have goals for how many families to serve and the circumstances of those families. We partner with these funders to fine tune eligibility criteria.
For example, a new program in New Hampshire might serve 200 children. Our funders want to make sure we serve families who are in the greatest need of early learning opportunities.

Is my child eligible if we homeschool?

Yes, you are eligible. While eligibility criteria vary among programs, homeschooling does not make a child ineligible.

Is my child eligible if they already participate in another preschool program?

Eligibility criteria vary among programs because funding sources vary from state to state.

How do I know if we are eligible?

The easiest way to see if you are eligible is to fill out our registration form. You’ll see messages in the form indicating if you are eligible. The form takes about 6 minutes to complete. We have active programs in these states.

Does Waterford Upstart cost anything?

Waterford Upstart is offered at no cost to eligible families. All costs, including equipment costs, are covered by our generous funders.

When should I register?

You should register now to ensure you get a spot. Register at Even if your child is too young to participate in a program this year, you can reserve a spot for a future year.

Who pays for the program?

Each program has its own funding source. Funders range from state governments to private philanthropies. Therefore, the program can be offered at no cost to participants. Learn more about each program.

Is Waterford Upstart the same at home as in schools?

Waterford Upstart is designed for children to learn academic skills at home. Some programs allow children to use the software in PreK classrooms. In those cases, the software is the same.

Participation Commitments

When does the program start?

Programs usually begin late summer and align with the school year. Each program (in various states) is slightly different.

What do I need to do to get started?

To get started, complete the registration form here. Before you can begin using the software, you will need to complete Parent Orientation. Parent orientation is done online, through Waterford Mentor.

How long does Waterford Upstart last?

Most participants will use Waterford Upstart during the traditional school year (September 1 through May 31).

How much time are we expected to spend on the program?

Children see the most growth from the program when they use at least 15 minutes a day, five days a week. However, program expectations can vary.

What are the terms of participation?

When you register for Waterford Upstart, we ask you to commit to complete Parent Orientation, help your child use the software for the recommended amount of time, and communicate with us regularly. There is also an end-user license agreement (EULA) that participants must agree to before using the software. Families that receive equipment as part of their participation must also agree to terms related to appropriate use of equipment. Read our standard terms of participation here.

How much will the Waterford Upstart team communicate with me?

You will receive communication through calls, texts, and emails to support your efforts in ensuring your child is ready for kindergarten. The amount of communication is dependent upon how closely you are meeting the Participant Commitments.

How much support do I need to give my child while he or she works on the program?

It’s important to let your child answer the questions on their own. That way, the Waterford software can assign lessons personalized to your child’s needs. If your child is stuck during an activity, suggest that they pick their best guess or favorite answer. Do not give them the correct answer or any hints.

How do I know if my child is done with their daily usage?

You can check on your child’s progress and daily usage through the Waterford Mentor website or mobile app. Usage totals can be found on the Home, Dashboards, and Usage tabs.

Program Timeline

How do I know if I am registered?

If you have registered for a program in the current school year, you should have received a confirmation email. If you have questions, please email

When should I expect to start?

Programs usually begin late summer and align with the school year. Each program (in various states) is slightly different. See this schedule of start dates for all programs.

What is my next step after registration?

If you have registered for a program in the current school year, and you have received a confirmation email, the next thing you’ll need to do is create a Waterford Mentor account. We will notify you about your next steps. You can see all your steps here .

When will the program end?

End dates vary for each program. Programs usually align with the school year and end around May 31.


Do I need a computer to participate?

Waterford Upstart is a kindergarten readiness program that combines virtual learning with parent communication. Your child will need a computer with a mouse to do the regular daily sessions. You will be able to communicate with us and track your child's progress on a phone or other device. In many cases, we can provide participants with computers.

What kind of computer do I need to participate?

Most computers are compatible. For a list of computers compatible with Waterford Upstart, see our system requirements page.

What if I don't have a computer? Will provide me with one?

We can provide you with a computer in many cases, depending on your income and where you live.

Does the software work on tablets or phones?

No. Waterford Upstart is not currently compatible with tablets or phones. For a list of computers compatible with Waterford Upstart, check out our system requirements page.

Do I need any extra equipment?

No. A working computer and an internet connection are the only things needed to access the software.

Does my child need a mouse?

Yes, your child will need a mouse or laptop trackpad in order to use the program. The program is not compatible with touch screens.


How does the software work?

Waterford Upstart is an adaptive curriculum. This means it assigns activities to your child based on their strengths and weaknesses. Your child will spend more time on the reading, math, and science skills they need help with to make their skills more rounded and ready for school.

What will my child learn?

The reading lessons teach your child the five important reading skills identified by the National Reading Panel. Those include:

  • phonological awareness
  • phonics
  • reading fluency
  • reading comprehension and vocabulary
  • language concepts

The math and science lessons teach your child about:

  • numbers and operations
  • algebraic thinking
  • measurement and data
  • geometry
  • science

You can view the skills taught in the program here (for Spanish click here). Activities within the software, as well as offline activities available on the Resources page in Waterford Mentor, also support social-emotional learning.

What is social-emotional learning?

Social-emotional learning teaches children how to understand their emotions and interact with the world around them. Your child will complete social-emotional learning activities in Waterford Upstart

What are the different curriculum assignments?

Depending on the program you are participating in, your child may be assigned Reading, Math and Science, or both. Both curriculums are designed to teach your child the foundational skills needed to be ready for school.

How do I get assigned a curriculum?

Your child’s curriculum will be automatically assigned once you have completed Parent Orientation.

Can I get my child's curriculum assignment changed?

For research purposes, curriculum assignments can not be changed.

Is Waterford Upstart appropriate for children with special needs?

Yes. Waterford Upstart is an adaptive curriculum, which means it is personalized to each child’s learning needs.

Other Questions

Should I be concerned with too much screen time?

The participation expectation in most Waterford Upstart programs is 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This is in alignment with the American Association of Pediatrics’ screen time recommendations for children older than 2 years. Some programs have different requirements. In no case is a child expected to use the software for more than 30 minutes a day.

What if I register and then can't continue in the program?

If you are unable to continue in the program, please contact your program coach.

Can my other children use the program?

Yes, we can create additional accounts for siblings or other children living in your household. To set up a sibling account, contact your program coach.

Can my child work on the program independently?

Yes. The software is simple to use. Your child will be able to start and complete sessions all by them themselves. We recommend you bookmark the Waterford Mentor homepage or create a desktop shortcut to help your child get to the program quickly.

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