Three South Carolina preschool centers recently partnered with the Waterford Institute in a six-month pilot educational program that will run through August.
The In-home UPSTART pilot schools are Thornwell Home for Children, Brookland Academy Child Development Center and Daniel Island Academy. The program’s participants thus far include primarily rural families and English language learners.
“Waterford is providing the software and training for parents, along with program support for each family with a child enrolled in UPSTART,” Claudia Miner, UPSTART director, said. “We will also provide Chromebooks and Internet to families that do not have them.”
Used in the home via the Internet, UPSTART includes more than 7,000 educational games and activities covering skills in reading, science and math to prepare children for kindergarten. The program instructs the students on essential early literacy skills and adapts to the pace of the learner to ensure the activities remain challenging.
“(This) growth would mean our children are even more prepared in literacy skills for success in kindergarten, and that’s exciting for all of us,” Jennifer McConnell, director of Brookland Academy Childhood Development Center, said.
Participants use an UPSTART designated period each day for up to five days per week.
“The value of early learning programs has been proven again and again, and we are excited to provide this option to help our children achieve outstanding school preparedness,” Norman Dover, education director at Thornwell Home for Children, said.
Pilot outcomes will be evaluated through participant usage data, parent and center satisfaction, assessment scores using Waterford Assessments of Core Skills, anecdotal feedback on children’s learning levels, and other program outcomes from the three partners.
“Parents frequently ask what they can do at home to help their children get ready to begin school,” Kerry Nowosielski, director of Daniel Island Academy, said. “UPSTART is a great answer to that question because parents provide the motivation for the child to use the program regularly.”