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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.

Cart Companion

At the store

When you're grocery shopping with your child, hand him/her some of the items before you put them into the cart. As he/she checks it out, tell him/her its name and talk about what you plan to use it for. Make sure it’s a conversation, where he/she is adding his/her ideas!

Holding the object in front of your child as you say its name helps him/her learn new vocabulary. And every time you have a back and forth conversation that extends his/her knowledge, you're building a brain!

Cart Manager

At the store

While grocery shopping, ask your child if he/she can manage the cart by sorting your shopping into vegetables, fruits, and frozen foods or by colour. Can he/she find a way to keep the boxes lined up so they don’t topple over?

When your child is managing the food and the space for the items, he/she is using math concepts to sort the items. Sorting is important for learning math.

Cart Vision

At the store

As you grocery shop, think about what your child might be seeing and discuss it with him/her while paying attention to sights, sounds, and smells. “Do you hear someone talking? It’s the lady over there.” “What do you smell? It smells yummy.” “See that green thing? It is an avocado we are going to buy.”

Talking to your child about what he/she sees, hears, and smells—even before he/she can talk much—is how your child learns to make sense of experiences, and how he/she learns words and what they mean. By describing your child’s Cart Vision, you’re also helping him/her feel important and understood.

Colour in the Cart

At the store

As you grocery shop, let your child help by holding some of the items. Choose the items by colour or let him/her point to the one he/she wants to hold and name the colour. “You are holding the yellow cereal box. What else is yellow?” or “Can you hold this brown box?”

Children learn best when they are interested and actively involved. When your child hears you name the colours of what he/she is holding, he/she begins to make connections between words and their meanings. This will help your child learn to talk, read, and communicate in the future.

Comparison Shopping

At the store

The grocery store can be a great place to build your child's brain on the go. Give him/her a banana and an apple to hold. “Which is heavier? Which is larger? Which is softer?” You can do in any aisle. Or even in any store!

Games like these help your child to think like a scientist because he/she is observing the world around him/her and making guesses about how things compare or fit together. Repeat the game a few times with different foods for him/her to compare. Remember, repetition is how we learn!

Delicious Descriptions

At the store

When shopping with your child, point out different objects you see in the aisles. Use lots of description to talk about the taste of different foods, like, “There are some juicy, sweet oranges,” or “I bet those yellow lemons are sour!” Talk about where your child points and looks.

You’re promoting skills like focus and self-control when you guide your child’s attention and make connections between words and what they mean. When you respond to his/her interests, whether they are expressed by a word, a sound, a point, or a look, you’re showing your child that what he/she has to "say” is important.

Food favourites

At the store

As you go shopping, point out some of your favourite foods to your child and see if he/she likes them: “I love yogurt, do you?” Then invite your child to point out a favourite food. Tell him/her if you like it. Play back and forth as you move down the aisles.

This game teaches your child that people have different likes and dislikes. The ability to think that someone else might feel differently about something than he/she does will help your child form better relationships with others and learn from them.

Food Finder

At the store

Ask your child to find one orange, two apples, and three bananas. As your child brings them to the cart, have him/her count out each item one by one. Take one of the items out and ask the child how many are now left.

When you use everyday experiences to teach counting, the idea that numbers stand for actual objects becomes real. With this game, your child is counting backward and forward—using the skills of focus, self-control, and remembering.

List Master

At the store

When you’re out running errands, put your child in charge of the list. Have him/her help list out a few things you guys have to do that day. When you finish each task, cross it off the list together!

When you make a list and cross things off the list together, it helps your child learn that written words represent real-world activities.

Market Ins and Outs

At the store

In the market, point out the “ins” and “outs” with your child. Is your child IN the cart? Is a worker taking pears OUT of the box? Did you put apples IN a bag? Are you walking OUT the door? Play often enough and your child will get it and find ins and outs of his/her own!

You’re helping your child begin to think and talk about where objects are in relationship to one other. This ability, which takes time to develop, helps your child organise his/her understanding of the world and will be important in doing math in the future.

Shopping List Scribble

At the store

Writing a shopping list? Talk with your child about what you need. Read outloud what you write down: “Milk, eggs, cereal.” Invite your child to “write” or draw on the list too and to tell you what he/she is thinking about when he/she makes those marks on the paper.

Your child is learning that the marks that you and he/she make on paper have meaning. Understanding that one thing stands for another is an important thinking skill in learning to write, read, and communicate.

Shopping Search

At the store

When shopping for groceries (or anything really), call out something you’re looking for on the shelf and have your child help you find it. Give him/her a clue: "It's in a red box." Can you do five in a row before you reach the end of the aisle?

Helping your child pay attention and follow your clues improves his/her focus and self-control.