Free at-home summer learning program available for 700 families in Washington state

The pandemic has created some real concerns about learning loss. When it comes to kindergartners, the latest data shows that enrollment for this year was down by 14 percent statewide.

 For Dash Nelson, an outgoing 4-year-old, kindergarten sounds amazing.

"We call it big boy school. You have to learn this before you go to big boy school, he’s like alright," said mom Mandy Nelson.

Education experts say whether or not your child is ready for kindergarten matters.

"If a child enters kindergarten behind they will likely stay behind," said Kim Fischer with Waterford.

RELATED: University of Washington to require COVID-19 vaccinations for students before fall semester

Fischer is the VP of Communication for Waterford, a non-profit based in Utah. Waterford is now providing a free online summer program to families in 8 different states including Washington.

"Children enter in all different levels, you have children already reading and you have other children who don’t know their colors," Fischer said.

The program will accept 700 Washington families who have kids going into kindergarten this fall.

"We will also provide a computer and internet access to families that need it," Fischer said.

If you are wondering if this is too good to be true, you are not alone.

RELATED: Possible rollbacks could delay western Washington summer camps again

"Every parent says it’s too good to be true but seriously it’s not. We are a non-profit organization, our foundation is based on achieving universal literacy for all children," Fischer said.

Parents will be assigned to a coach who will guide them through the resources. The coach will check in remotely as needed and the program will also send parents notifications on how their child is progressing.

"The children will use the program online 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, it’s adaptive, it figures out how that child is learning," Fischer said.

The program is first come first serve but Waterford wants to target kindergartners who need it the most.

"Don’t know how to count to 20, they don’t know their colors, they are not beginning to string words together, those are the kids we are looking to help," Fischer said.

 Nelson said those metrics are helping her understand if her son is ready.

"Letters and numbers he is there, so I feel comfortable with that," Nelson said.

Nelson may not have to sign Dash up for Waterford’s resources but she said it could be vital for others.

The deadline to apply for the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path is May 31st and you can apply here.

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