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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 Kids

At the park

When in the park with your child, look for the “big kids.” Sit your child on your lap or move his/her stroller so you can watch them and talk about what you are seeing. “Those kids are playing hide and seek like you will one day!“

Watching and talking about “big kids” gives your child the chance to practice gathering information about other people by watching. As your child gets older, he/she will want to imitate kids on the swings or going down slides. For now, watching and talking are fun.

Did You Hear That?

At the park

When you’re in the park, ask your child, “Did you hear that?” each time you hear a sound. Imitate the sound out loud and make gestures to go along with it. Invite him/her to make the sound too.

You are giving your child practice being able to hear differences in sounds. This is an important skill for enjoying and learning language so he/she can communicate well with others.

Drop the Ball

At the park

Turn your trip to the park into a chance to Drop the Ball. Give your child a safe object to hold onto and drop, like a ball or a crumbled piece of paper. If you pick it up, your child will drop it again. “Down it falls. Up it comes.” Keep up the game with new objects!

Building your child’s ability to use his/her hands is important. He/She will use this ability at home, at play, and at school. In addition, he/she is learning to pay attention and to have self-control—also key skills for life.

Guess Who!

At the park

Work together with your child to invent a story about people you pass on the street. Ask him/her, “Tell me about that man who just walked by.” See how he/she responds. You can help your child by asking questions like, “What do you think he likes to do for fun?” or “What is his favourite food?” Use your imagination!

As you and your child create a story, your child uses his/her communication skills to figure out what he/she wants to say and how, in order to be understood. He/She also has a chance to practice seeing through others’ eyes as he/she explores how different people might think or feel.

Name That Sound

At the park

When you’re in the park, pause and ask your child to Name That Sound! Take turns guessing. Are you hearing children playing or a dog barking? The squeak of a swing or the chirp of a bird? Point out that some things, like ants, don’t make sounds.

When playing Name That Sound, you’re inviting your child to focus on hearing the differences in sounds and figuring out what they are. This is an important skill for enjoying and learning language that will help your child communicate with others.

Nature Patterns

At the park

Have your child collect items like rocks and leaves. Arrange them in a pattern like one rock, two leaves, one rock, two leaves. Then mix them up and ask your child to recreate your pattern. Can he/she remember the order? Have your child take a turn making a simple pattern for you to remember.

Noticing and recreating patterns requires your child to use his/her focus, memory, and ability to make connections. These are all important skills for learning. Playing with patterns also gives your child practice with math ideas like numbers, shapes, and comparing sizes.

New Timers

At the park

When you’re at a playground, help your child do things he/she hasn’t done before. Try out the swings or the slide, or even feel the different textures on the ground. As long as he/she is safe, let him/her try new playground experiences, with a helping hand if he/she needs it. How does he/she respond? Celebrate what he/she says and does!

Giving your child the chance to do safe things by himself/herself helps him/her feel confident, competent, and to learn to take on challenges.

Park Pointers

At the park

While you’re at the park with your child, point to things you see and say what they are. “There’s a black bird and he’s flying!” or “The little girl is jumping.” Watch where your child is looking and say what it is.

When you describe what you see or what your child sees, he/she is making connections between words and what they mean. Children who know words and what the words mean have a head start on learning.

Park Ranger

At the park

The park is a great time to be on the lookout for what’s around. As you walk with your child, point out groups of birds, trees, leaves, people, etc. and ask him/her, “How many do you see?” Take turns pointing to different things all over the park!

As you act like Park Rangers, your child is learning to estimate numbers. He/She is using what he/she knows about numbers and applying it. Being able to estimate is an important part of learning and using math.

Skipper

At the park

If you are near water (a pond, river, or the sea), skip rocks into the water, talking back and forth about how differences in the shapes and sizes of the rocks affect how they skip. If you’re near a big puddle, you can do a similar experiment with rocks, sticks, or leaves.

This game helps your child learn to create science experiments—to focus on understanding the evidence (how the size and weight of the rock affects how the rock skips) and to make predictions based on that evidence. Thus, your child is learning critical thinking skills.

Sounds of the Park

At the park

As you walk in the park, listen to the sounds with your child. Which ones are quiet, which are loud? Yell “loud!” and mimic the sound. Then whisper “quiet” and try that one too. Go back and forth with your child imitating all the sounds at their different volumes.

Outdoors is the perfect place to talk about quiet and loud sounds. As your child listens for sounds and waits for the right time to make a quiet or loud sound, he/she is controlling his/her behaviour. This skill is part of being able to set and reach goals.

Still as a Statue

At the park

Ask your child to pretend to be a statue and freeze in a pose, like standing on one foot. Try to have him/her hold this pose as long as possible while you do everything you can to make him/her laugh and move. Then you can take a turn as the statue and see if your child can make you laugh and move!

This game is all about focus and self-control. Your child is concentrating to stay in the statue pose, and learning to tune out distractions so he/she can achieve a goal. This kind of playful learning helps your child develop skills for life.