COLUMBUS, Ohio – Making sure kids are ready for kindergarten is at the top of the list as many districts across the country face the challenge of kids being behind when they start their first day.

What You Need To Know

  • Columbus City Schools expanded their partnership with Waterford Upstart to make sure nothing hindered pre-schoolers from gaining foundational skills

  • Federal dollars are being used to help 1,700 students get free laptops, internet and access to Waterford's online learning tools 

  • The program is designed for kids to use 15 minutes each day within their family's own pace and schedule at home

  • To learn more about Waterford Upstart, click here

Although Columbus City Schools has a pre-K program to help get kids ready for kindergarten, they haven't been able to reach every pre-school-age child needing help.

Access for some, for any number of reasons, has been an issue. That's why the district decided to supplement their traditional pre-K program with an at-home option. Plus, “a lot of our students enter kindergarten, not where they need to be. So they're lacking some of those foundational skills,” said Terra Baker, director of Early Childhood Education at Columbus City Schools.

Looking to close the educational gap, Baker added the district is trying to offer as many resources as possible to level the playing field, especially in the area of literacy. 

For the Sebring family, mom Angel said being able to use the program at home or on the go has made things a lot easier and convenient.

“I can be in the kitchen or wherever when he lets me know it's over, then I can change the video,” she explained. “There's just more time to concentrate on the things that he doesn't know and the things that he needs improving on.”

With a short attention span, she said it was challenging getting her 4-year-old son, Thiagos, to focus on the lessons at first, but after a few weeks, that changed.

Now, “he asks me, 'mommy, is it time for me to do my work now?' So, it’s a big change from when we first began," she said. With daily lessons, she said she now sees that he's able to focus more, and “I’ve seen him improve on his letters and his memorization of the stories.” 

Ultimately, CCS is hoping that as more families learn about the free option, parents will become more engaged in their student's learning and that kids will be ready to enter kindergarten on grade level.