Early Childhood Education
The Importance of Universal Pre-Kindergarten
As a children’s music entertainer for over a decade plus, I have performed in every setting imaginable. Within the same day, I have performed birthday parties in the wealthiest suburbs of New Jersey and Long Island that cost over one-hundred thousand dollars to apartments in projects in the Bronx. I have performed for elite preschools where children wear shoes that cost several hundred dollars to preschools where single moms work fourteen jobs to buy their kid a pair of plastic sneakers. I have performed for children enrolled in organizations such as Children of Promise which provide after school programs to children whose parents are incarcerated and for children who live in 50 million dollar apartments on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I have been a children’s music entertainer in daycare settings where little girls living in foster care ask me to be their mommy to children with two functional parents and a nanny assigned to each sibling.
I have witnessed, firsthand, almost every demographic and culture in the New York Metropolitan area, and I can say, without hesitation there is a marked difference in the behavior of children who have had strong early childhood foundations and those who have not. In later postings, I will be delving further into this topic and how it manifests itself, but for now, let’s just start with the premise that there is a marked, obvious difference. The children who have had strong beginnings are ready to learn and those who haven’t have a great deal ahead of them to surmount. You can see, firsthand, that these children without a solid beginning are entering the school system on a derailed train track. Simply stated, children who begin their academic careers without a solid preschool experience are starting off at a serious disadvantage.
Children who attend preschool have higher literacy and higher high-school school graduation rates. It is linked to less teenage pregnancy, violent crime, and produces more overall positive outcomes, particularly for at-risk children.
I take my job as a children’s music entertainer quite seriously and believe that being a children’s performer also means being a child advocate. All children, not just those born to wealthy and middle class homes are deserving of a fair start in life. I plan on discussing this topic more when time allows, but am thrilled to see it develop as a more national, urgent conversation.