Upstart by Waterford Review & Additional Useful Resources
Have you heard of Upstart? It's a free pre-school online that helps to teach children phonics, sight words, math skills, and science interest. Inara (our youngest) has been participating in the program for just over 2 months now, and we LOVE it! Read our full review below and learn how you can sign up your preschooler for this program next year.
Let's start with signing up online. You simply go to the Upstart website and sign your child up if they meet the basic qualifications (they must be starting Kindergarten the year following when they start Upstart, and they must start at the beginning of the year or semester mark). It took us about 3 minutes to sign Inara up. However, after she was signed up it was radio silence until the beginning of the school year so that's a big of a wait.
Around the end of July we heard from an Upstart program manager who set us up for training. Yes we had to attend a training class and Inara got to try out the program on a little 'pre-evlauation'. The program is free and it's quite amazing, but you do have to agree to use it according to the terms and conditions. YOU MUST PARTICIPATE ON THE PROGRAM FOR A MINIMUM OF 15 MINUTES PER DAY 5 DAYS A WEEK. They stress that point over and over and over and over. They will even call and check in if you miss too many times within a week.
Once you attend training you can start using the program that day! And, they say that once your child reaches 2000 minutes they start to really take off on reading and math! One thing we've noticed about Inara is that she asks questions because she 'wants to test the answer' a thought process the program pushes during reading time and science exploration.
Inara plays most days for 15 to 20 minutes, however, there are other days like just recently on a long airplane ride that she played for several hours. AND SHE LOVES IT! She is learning to read at an alarming rate. She has already started reading the pre-reader books such as The Cat Sat on The Mat and is working her way up to Level 1 reader books quite quickly. In addition to reading she is now counting to 50 by herself, and is interested in other subjects such as astronomy and how bugs live. So far it's bee a joy, and days that are harder for her to sit down and work on it we do it together.
We have also found a few books and games that have really helped to reinforce the learning she's doing online and gives us a great opportunity to talk about her school.
Our list of additional learning resources we're using (these items are not recommended specifically by Waterford, they are just products we have found helpful).
1. Word Play: Sight Words (Now I'm Reading!: Pre-Reader)
2. Learning Resources Snap Cubes
3. Spot It! Alphabet
4. Zingo! Sight Words,
5. The Toddler's Busy Book For Beginners: The Best Inexpensive Creative Learning Games & Activities For Your Toddler (Toddler Games, Toddler Activities, Education ... Toddler Book, Preschool, Kindergarten,)
These supplies make it easy to continue learning as the program uses concepts, words, and math ideas that can be duplicated with the above items. Waterford also suggests reading to your child everyday, reading outloud especially when trying to learn can help children understand the concepts and reasons for learning to read.