This post was originally published on Michigan Chronicle

Families in Michigan now have a new option to prepare their children for kindergarten at home and at no cost. Thanks to generous donations made through the TED Organization, is bringing the Waterford Upstart program to the Great Lake State.

Each year, 2.2 million 4-year-old children in the United States do not have access to publicly funded early education, and more than half are from low-income families with no early education options at all. Waterford is one of eight nonprofit organizations in the world named a 2019 TED Audacious Project. As a part of this recognition, Waterford was tasked with reaching more 4-year-olds in need, including 200 children in Michigan. 

Waterford Upstart is an in-home, early education program that prepares 4-year-old children for kindergarten. Families are given the tools they need to be their child’s first and most influential teachers, including a computer and internet at no cost. The program provides positive parent-child interactions while delivering personalized, online instruction 15 minutes a day, five days a week. Families are also supported by a family coach and given tips to continue engaging their children offline. On average, 92% of children who participate in Waterford Upstart are ready for kindergarten—compared to a 65% average nationwide and 48% for low-income children.

“When a child begins school behind his or her peers, it’s very hard to catch up. An at-home solution like Waterford Upstart has proven to be not only effective in educating our youngest learners, but also a necessity for many families,” said Kim Fischer, national spokesperson for “Waterford Upstart meets families where they are, so they can feel confident their children will walk into their first day of kindergarten prepared and ready to learn.”

Detroit Public Schools Community District schools are also offering the Great Start Readiness Program to prepare aspiring four-year old learners for successful entry into kindergarten and through the educational achievement of elementary, middle school and high school grade levels.

The Great Start Readiness Program is a state-funded prekindergarten program for four year old children.  The program is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and administered by Wayne RESA.  Maxium class size is 18 students.  Early childhood students attend school four days per week (M-TH).  The program provides educational, health, mental health, and parental involvement services.  Students selected for the Great Start Readiness Program must meet income guidelines.

In addition to GSRP the Detroit Public Schools Community District through its Office of Early Childhood works diligently to ensure that all children have access to high-quality early learning programs and enter kindergarten prepared for success. We ensure that all early childhood outcomes include:

  • Children thriving
  • Children are developmentally ready to succeed in school
  • Children are prepared to succeed by achieving appropriate grade level reading proficiencies

DPSCD provides a free, high-quality early learning experience for students who are 4 years old by December 1st of the current school year.

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