State seeks 200 families for online preschool program

Monitor staff
Published: 1/27/2020 6:04:11 PM
Modified: 1/27/2020 6:03:54 PM

New Hampshire is looking for 200 families to try an online preschool program run by a national nonprofit that says it can help families who can’t access traditional classes.

The state Department of Education has received a grant from Waterford.org to run the program, which has 4-year-olds take lessons on a computer for 15 minutes a day, five days a week, dealing with such things as nursery rhymes and letter sounds, with suggestions for parents to continue working with children offline. The program is free to participating families.

The grant covers software and, if the family is eligible, a new computer and internet access.

“We don’t want this to be limited only to people who have those resources already,” said Grant Bosse, spokesman for the Department of Education.

The program, called Waterford Upstart, was created by the Utah legislature in 2009 to better prepare children for kindergarten. The impetus was to provide preschool education to rural or lower-income areas that couldn’t afford public programs, as well as to home-schoolers and immigrant communities.

Waterford Upstart has since spread to many other states, supported sometimes by government funding and other times by private grants. Waterford said about 16,000 children in 15 states graduated from the program in 2019, and projects that 22,000 students may participate this year. No New England states offer the program.

New Hampshire’s pilot program is “open to 200 families,” said Bosse. “We’re hoping to expand it after that.”

To participate, children must start kindergarten in the fall of 2021. Families will begin the program this coming September, with graduation in July of 2021. There are no restrictions on income or location: The program is open all New Hampshire families.

Families interesting in participating in this innovative Pre-K pilot program can register at WaterfordUPSTART.org or call 1-800-669-4533 for more information.

The pilot “is being funded by philanthropic donations,” said Kim Fischer, director of public relations for Waterford.org. No state funding is involved.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313, dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)


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