Universal Pre-K

Those who know me know my aversion to politics. However, the new NYC mayor and the NYS governor began 2014 haggling over Universal Pre-K, and how fast we need it, and how we pay for it, and it is central to what I do as a game inventor. I specifically design for an audience around the 5 year old mark, and I began inventing games when my daughter was in preschool (more on that here - http://www.ani-gram-it.com/play-is-the-answer/2014/1/9/i-finally-know-what-i-want-to-do-when-i-grow-up). 

I'm avidly for better preschool experiences for our kids under 5, and Universal Pre-K is one initiative. Nicholas Kristof did a piece for the NYTimes recently about how vital early education is critical to not having skill/learning gaps entering kindergarten, gaps which often are not made up in later grades (http://nyti.ms/1dBBzSc). It's mind-blowing to think of 1+ year cognitive gaps between the fastest and the slowest learners entering K - that kids could already be that far behind in their first 5 years. It's a problem which pulls down many elementary schoolers, as well as their teachers and their schools.

Kristof and others fault poverty for this intractable problem which is dragging not just classrooms down, but entire communities. All parents need support to nurture their kids, even more so many single, young, or unsupported mothers, a job made more difficult since most must work as well. We ask so much of women when they raise kids, and managing the "caregiving vs breadwinning" needs of families is a tough transition for new moms, continues as the family grows, and is acute with single moms. To see a child lose his mother's attention when he needs her the most is simply not right. Our whole society is weakened when kids fall through the cracks almost from the outset.

Kids are naturally curious, and have wonderful ways to look at the world, before they are taught what they should think about it. I not only support more enthusiastic and reliable early childhood ed, whether Universal Pre-K or other programs, and would like to see how what I do can be a part of turning the tide.

While visiting my daughter's downtown preschool recently, they invited me to teach the card version of Ani-gram-it to the 5's. I can't wait to go. I have a sponsored visit from our recent crowdfunding campaign to visit a preschool in Harlem and I can't wait to meet these kids as well. I love taking a room full of fidgets, dreamers and fireballs and winning them over with play. I have a list of elementary and middle schools to visit already, yet adding preschools got me really excited.

I believe very strongly in paying it forward, and that's why I design for kids. As Kristof asks bluntly - would we rather invest in preschools or prisons? I'm for getting in there now, one classroom at a time, with play as my "weapon".

Engaging kids early, and through games and toys, is vital. Smart play makes for smarter kids.