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How a new free program in Memphis could help get children prepared for kindergarten

The program, Waterford, is a free online early education course for preschool-aged children. All technology and learning materials are provided.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new program for Memphis families aims to improve literacy among Memphis students by helping low-income families get their children ready for kindergarten.

The new program launching is called Waterford. It's an online early education program that will educate children for free, since preschool is not accessible to many families in Memphis because of the costs.

Waterford's spokesperson, John McCann, said the program is breaking barriers because not only is it completely free, but your child will be provided with all the material it takes to learn online, such as hotspots and laptops. 

"If kids are not reading on grade level by the third grade, there are studies that show those are the kids that will end up struggling in school. Some will end up not graduating," McCann said.

McCann explained Waterford is an evidence-based program that helps kids gain the confidence they need to learn the material and take those skills through throughout their education. 

The online model is programmed to move at your child's learning pace.

"There's letter recognition, and then they'll start to understand that every letter has a particular sound, then they take those sounds and start performing words, then turn those words into sentences," he said.

Statistics from Literacy Mid-South show more than 70% of third graders living in Shelby County are not reading on grade level. McCann said data shows that students graduating from Waterford are reading at a first-grade level when they enter kindergarten. 

Right now, Waterford is accepting 200 applications and if you want to sign your child up, the deadline is August 8th. And in order or students to complete the program, they must log in five days a week for 15 minutes. This program lasts a full school year. Apply HERE.