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Brain Building Tips

Vroom distils early learning research into bite-size activities that support children’s brain growth from birth to age five. With the backing of the Bezos Family Foundation, vroom.org was developed by a group of dedicated scientists, community leaders and trusted brands, with input from community organisations and families, early childhood experts and neuroscientists.

Acting Out

Anytime Anywhere

When your child does something that he/she should NOT do, tell your child why he/she should not have done it. Then ask your child to draw a picture of what happened on a piece of paper. On the other side of the paper, have your child draw what he/she could have done in a better way. Talk about why this new idea would be a better choice.

Using this strategy changes your approach from “dealing with misbehaviour” to “promoting learning skills.” When your child comes up with new solutions, he/she is learning not to go on autopilot but to think of more effective ways to deal with problems.

Babble On

Anytime Anywhere

Don’t be afraid to babble. When your child starts to make noises, treat it like a real conversation and mimic the sounds right back. See how many times you can go back and forth!

All kinds of “conversations” help to build children’s brains—even when they’re still learning how to talk. By following your child’s lead and responding, you spark the connections he/she needs for language and communication later on.

Big Hug, Little Hug

Anytime Anywhere

When it’s time for a hug, ask your child if he/she wants a big hug or a little hug and then do what your child asks. Then you take a turn and say whether you want a big or little hug. You can add other words, like a “wiggly hug” or a “quiet hug.”

The sense of touch is calming and comforting to your child. These hugs not only make your relationship stronger, they also allow you to share new words and concepts with your child, like big and little.

Body Language

Anytime Anywhere

Practice using gestures with your child as another way to communicate. You can wave your hand and say “hi!” or shake your head and say “no.” Or you can clap your hands and say “yay!” See if your child will mimic your actions and sounds. Try going back and forth like a conversation.

Many children use gestures before they speak. When you show your child how gestures and words work together, you add to his/her understanding of what it means to communicate. You also help him/her make connections between words and actions, an important part of talking, reading, and writing.

Category Convos

Anytime Anywhere

Tell your child about a favourite food. Ask him/her to name a food he/she likes that’s in the same category, like fruit, but different. Keep count of how many different things you both like in the same category. Play the same game with something else like clothes!

This game is teaching your child about categories; things that are the same in important ways, though different in others. Your child is also learning about your likes and dislikes compared to his/hers, helping him/her learn about other people.

Checklist

Anytime Anywhere

Help your child develop routines around eating times, playtime and bedtime. Help him/her make a chart for what he/she does when he/she wakes up: Get dressed, check. Eat breakfast, check. Even look out the window and say, “Will you need a raincoat today?” Grab jacket, check.

Having routines around the major times of the day helps children understand their experience and know what to expect. Predictability helps children feel safe and planning ahead is good for their brains.

Copy Cat

Anytime Anywhere

Like you, children experience many different emotions every day. Make faces that mirror how your child seems to be feeling. Talk to him/her about why you're making those faces. “You are smiling and seem happy, and I am smiling and happy too.”

When you imitate the face that your child makes, you help him/her express what he/she thinks and feels even though he/she can't speak yet. These "conversations without words" begin to help your child learn about others’ feelings and emotions!

Daily Discoveries

Anytime Anywhere

What is your child doing? Reaching for a toy? Hitting two blocks together to make a sound? As he/she discovers his/her world, pay attention, smile, and use words that he/she will learn someday: “You reached out your fingers and got your toy.”

When you pay attention to what your child does and share his/her delight in doing and learning, you start him/her on the path to become a lifelong learner.

Dance Party

Anytime Anywhere

Your child may not be walking or talking yet, but with your help, they can definitely boogie. So turn on some music and hold your child as you dance around. When you sit down together, shake your arms to the music and see if your child can do the same!

Paying attention to sounds and movements is an early step in listening for sounds—a reading skill.

Face Off

Anytime Anywhere

Make a face that expresses a feeling and ask your child to make a face that expresses the opposite feeling. If you make a happy face, he/she should make a sad face. Talk about when he/she remembers people making these faces. Then take a selfie together with your goofiest faces!

This game helps your child learn empathy, by practicing understanding the emotions of others—and express his/her own feelings. It's an important skill that we use every day as adults!

Hot Potato

Anytime Anywhere

You and your child can play this game anywhere you are. Find a small item to pass back and forth and sing a song as you do. As the song ends, whoever has the object does something special or silly, like blink three times or jump up and down. Take turns.

Playing Hot Potato gives your child practice in following the rules and taking turns. It also gives him/her practice with self-control, a skill that helps him/her to stick with something long enough to meet his/her goals.

Imaginary Flower

Anytime Anywhere

Does your child like to pretend? Tell him/her that there is an imaginary flower growing on his/her nose. Describe what it looks like. Then pretend to grab it! Now say there is a flower on his/her ear and grab it too. Have your child describe and grab the flowers on you and enjoy the joke.

Although pretending is lots of fun, it also teaches your child that one thing can stand for something else. These symbols are the basis of reading and writing, with words standing for objects and ideas. This game also develops children’s creative thinking.