During this coronavirus pandemic, parents and children are home together like never before, working and learning together. And we aren’t only speaking of parents and their children. Daily life for everyone has been disrupted like never before. In our time of social distancing, we find ourselves both united and separated as COVID-19 knows no borders. Across our planet, spanning the continents, coronavirus is with us, and to fight its spread, we have collectively shuttered the doors of our offices, the doors of our schools, the doors that once opened upon communal gatherings, all in our attempt to “flatten the curve” of a virus that within three months, as the Financial Times reports, has infected over a half million of us, with more than 180 countries reporting confirmed cases.
During these soul-trying times, our children are with us, looking to us to guide them through the uncertainty. Without the usual support of schools and teachers, how do we as parents and caregivers continue to support our children’s learning, especially the education of preschoolers, when they are the ones with the most to gain and the most to lose?
At birth, a child’s brain has typically attained 25% of its adult size; by three, that percentage has risen to 80%, gaining, by the tender age of five, some 90% of its adult size. Within the first five years of life, children experience the most cognitive growth. Understanding that every moment matters during the early stages of cognitive development, we at DMAI are committed to producing the highest quality content to meet the learning benchmarks appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. With Animal Island Learning Adventure (AILA), our original series, parents can now chart the educational milestones of their toddlers and preschoolers.
“Just try to keep as much of that normalcy for kids as you can. Because if we encourage each other to share resources, a lot of times you’ll find richness in that, community-building. It helps the kids feel like the world isn’t falling apart right now.”
Dr. Michelle Martin
Beverly Cleary Endowed Professor in Children and Youth Services at the University of Washington
For parents of little ones, routine and consistency are crucial during these times.
For us at DMAI, our community includes all the moms and dads supporting their children with cheerful and encouraging words, songs, and actions, the everyday heroes who play monumental roles in the lives of their children, all of which was on full display this past holiday season when we announced our America’s Got Baby campaign. During our campaign, we met Amanda Caffelle, dedicated mom of twin girls Lilah and Keira.
“We do a ton of hands-on activities at our house to keep us busy like painting, sensory bins, color matching activities etc. We have also really been enjoying our AILA, especially Monkey! At this age, I think it’s most important to let them play to learn. I like setting up different play experiences that ignite their curiosity and engage them. Children naturally want to learn and I am always amazed by how much they actually pick up when I just sit down and play with them.”
– Amanda Caffelle
But what if both parents are nurses on the front lines battling coronavirus, as is the case with three-year old Jace?
As we all know all too well, it takes a village to raise a child, and this proverb is especially true in the extraordinary case of Jace, whose parents James and Kaye are both nurses in Los Angeles County on the front lines battling coronavirus.
We first met Jace on Instagram during our holiday campaign, and when we announced preorders for AILA Sit & Play, and Jace’s parents were onboard, joining our evolution in early childhood education and embracing our mission at DMAI to lift humanity.
On January 22, 2020, we shipped AILA Sit & Play to Jace, and he was thrilled – Watch the video!
By then, our world was changing, only we weren’t fully aware of the extent to which it was changing. Just over a week later, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and all of humanity had a new pandemic with which to contend.
As the New York Times reports, over 3,000 nurses, doctors, and hospital staff were infected in China, and in Spain, nearly 14% of coronavirus cases are health workers, over 5,000 in total. COVID-19 has been aptly described by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health as a “public health crisis of historic proportions.” These numbers bring with them a stark new reality: while it takes a village to raise a child, it will take the world to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The disease that on February 11, 2020 became known as COVID-19 resonates deeply with us in Los Angeles County, one of the first hit regions of our country where COVID-19 has taken its toll on our communities, particularly the families of health workers.
In March, Jace turned three, and he remains engaged by the curriculum of AILA Sit & Play, which receives free updates and new educational content. As Kaye, Jace’s mom, notes, “We set daily activities and play time for Jace, which includes his AILA.” The content is robust, diverse, and fosters empathy. The curriculum is designed by education experts and innovators to support the cognitive and emotional development of toddlers and preschoolers. AILA Sit & Play offers a safe place for Jace to learn and to dance, to count and to have story time, and his parents appreciate the helpful lesson summaries and recaps. AILA Sit & Play is a parenting tool powered by next-generation cognitive artificial intelligence and informed by educational best practices.
As each child has a unique learning style, AILA Sit & Play tailors content while ensuring that important cognitive milestones are met along the way.
Along with promoting learning, AILA Sit & Play has emerged as an important and steady presence, as a true learning companion in a time of deep uncertainty for Jace.
Our children remain with us, continually growing and learning, and we should not halt their education, for these are the formative years that will shape their future. These are the years that require our utmost attention as parents and caregivers of the next generation of learners and leaders.
“Right now with all of the good big brothers and Dad getting to be at home, we’re doing tons of learning through music. Music has always been something that gets his attention, and he learns so well when we teach with it. In between lots of play time with his big brothers, we’re enjoying singing our ABC’s, leaning body parts with ‘Head, shoulders, knees, and toes’ or ‘If you’re happy and you know it.’ The list goes on and on, but we’re doing as much as we can to distract ourselves from what’s going on in the world outside of our home. We actually are enjoying the extra quality time together as a family.”
– Jessica Bell
“All roads lead back to education. […] We know that the highest returns are at early childhood, and the benefits of very young children getting taught how to learn and having good cognitive development in the early stages has payoffs throughout their lives. And in many ways, if you want to equalise opportunities, those early stages are the most important.”
Director of The London School of Economics & Former Bank of England Policy Maker
Looking back, the team at DMAI will be proud that we supported Jace, that we helped him as a toddler develop the skills required for a lifetime of learning and problem solving.
We will be proud that AILA Sit & Play was a learning companion for a happy child like Jace, along with numerous other curious and engaged preschoolers, during our times of uncertainty.
A Learning Companion for a Happy Child
Our cognitive A.I. algorithm is designed to deliver the right content at the right time for any child to learn by visual, auditory, and active engagement. The age appropriate video content is a mixture of individual segments that includes animations, songs, stories, games, character-driven interactions and dialogues. Our platform, enabled by Dark Matter™ Artificial Intelligence (DMAI), provides multi-sensory instruction and is adaptable to each child based on real time physical and emotional reactions. Children learn differently and have their own learning paths, and that’s what makes AILA Sit & Play unique.
With AILA Sit & Play, parents will have peace of mind and won’t have to spend time curating or filtering content.
Dr. Delano Copprue