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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.

Big Time

At an appointment

Play Big Time to make waiting time fly by. Hold up an object—a magazine, an item from a bag, or a toy. Ask your child, “Can you find something bigger than this?” After he/she does, then ask, “Can you find something smaller than this?”

When you take turns posing questions, this game becomes a back and forth conversation about size. It provides a chance for your child to focus on and explore the idea of size—a concept he/she can use to organise his/her understanding of the world.

Faces and Feelings

At an appointment

Next time you’re stuck in a waiting room with your child, pick up a magazine. Point out a face in one of the pictures and have your child copy it. Ask your child what he/she thinks the person is feeling. Discuss with him/her when you and he/she might have felt this way too.

When you talk about your own and others’ feelings, you’re helping your child learn to take a new perspective, which are helpful in getting along with others.

Find the B's

At an appointment

While waiting at the doctor’s office or drugstore, look around you and try to spot things that start with a B sound. Take turns spotting B’s (like babies, bottles, and baskets) and calling out the words to each other.

By using waiting times for learning, you’re helping your child learn to wait as well as to make connections among letters, words, and sounds—all laying the foundation for reading.

Find the Opposites

At an appointment

When you’re waiting somewhere, ask your child to play the “Find the Opposites” with you. You call out something big and he/she responds with the opposite, something small. Start with easy comparisons, like big and small, high and low, or near and far.

When your child learns opposites and distances (near and far), he/she is learning concepts that he/she will use in math, science and reading. Remember, it is always important to play these games in a back and forth way because that is how your child learns best.

Finger Marker

At an appointment

While waiting, draw a shape (like a circle or a wiggly line), using your fingertip on your child’s open palm. Can he/she name it? Repeat the same shape until your child can guess what it is. Take turns back and forth, drawing and guessing hand shapes.

When you make a finger marker, you give your child a chance to put together what he/she knows about how shapes look with how shapes feel. It is a new and fun way to learn shapes through the sense of touch.

In the Bag

At an appointment

Before you go to an appointment, grab some safe things for your child to play with and put them in a bag. While you’re waiting, reach into the bag and talk about what you find. “This is a teething ring for you to chew on. Here’s a rattle for you to hold. Let’s shake it!”

Talking about what’s In the Bag is interesting to your child and will help him/her build his/her vocabulary and his/her brain. Speak in full sentences. It's okay to use words that your child doesn't know yet. That's how he/she learns!

Letter Shapes

At an appointment

Encourage your child to point out letters on signs around him/her. Help describe the shapes of the letters, like, “Look. The letter A is pointy, like a triangle. What about the letter O?” See if you and your child can find all the letters of the alphabet and describe their Letter Shapes.

Your child is using focus to find letters, self-control to keep playing the game, and memory to use what he/she knows about letters and shapes to make new connections. When you have fun with language and shapes, you help your child enjoy learning.

Name Game

At an appointment

In a waiting room or just hanging out in the living room? Flip through a magazine with your child and take turns making up names for the people in it. Start naming people with A then B. Then go backwards and start with Z, then Y.

Playing this game involves remembering, thinking creatively, and not going on autopilot. These are all important skills for learning new things.

Pick A Hand

At an appointment

Play a game by hiding something small in your hand behind your back. First, show your child the object, like a coin or a pen, in your hand. Put it behind your back and change hands or leave it in the same. Ask your child to guess which hand the object is in. Let your child hide the object and you guess.

When your child guesses which hand the object is in, he/she is focusing, looking for clues, and making predictions. This game helps build an understanding of math concepts. And taking turns is important!

Reach for the Sky

At an appointment

Make your waiting time fun! Ask your child, “Can you do this?” and hold your hands up very high and say, “Reach for the sky!” Invite him/her to copy you. Next, put your hands behind your back and see if he/she copies you. Then take a turn and copy him/her.

When your child tries to mimic the movements you make, he/she’s using the skills of focus and attention. You’re exposing him/her to new vocabulary while also helping him/her make connections between words and what they represent, the building blocks of learning how to talk and, later, to read.

Reporting Live!

At an appointment

While waiting at the supermarket, drugstore, or doctor’s office, pretend you’re a newscaster. Using your pretend microphone, ask your child questions: “What do you see? Who else is here? What do you think is going to happen next?”

Giving your child a chance to tell the news provides his/her with an opportunity to observe what is happening around him/her and put it into words. He/She is learning to be an effective communicator. There’s nothing like a pretend microphone to get someone talking!

Shhh, What's That?

At an appointment

Do you hear a sound in the waiting room? Pause. Ask your child, “What's that sound?” Take turns guessing. Are you hearing a slamming door or papers rustling? The squeak of a sliding chair or someone clearing his or her throat? Name them all together!

You are inviting your child to focus on hearing the differences in sounds. This is an important skill for enjoying and learning language so he/she can communicate with others.