Thoughtful Parenting: Daily Vroom | SteamboatToday.com

Thoughtful Parenting: Daily Vroom

Deirdre Pepin/For Steamboat Today

Parents of kids age 5 and younger often find themselves juggling work and family, wondering if they're doing enough of the important stuff kids need to learn and succeed. In our fast-paced society, it's easy to feel rushed, stressed and overwhelmed. Daily Vroom, a mobile app created to be wherever parents and caregivers are, reminds us that we already have within us what it takes to help kids develop.

Vroom is based on the ideas that brain-building moments are all around us, and any moment can become a brain-building moment. Some parents might benefit from using everyday moments a little differently, while others may need new ideas to spark everyday learning.

In the first five years of life, a child's brain makes more than 1 million neural connections every second. These neural connections form the foundation for future learning. Since each experience and interaction shapes the growing brain, we're teaching our kids whether we're trying to or not. Daily Vroom helps parents understand what happens in children's brains during these experiences and interactions.

Three scientific principles comprise the essence of Vroom. The first is that positive relationships with caring adults are essential for brain building. There is no healthy social, emotional and cognitive development in the absence of relationships.

The second is that back-and-forth interaction between a child and adult — especially pre-language — is the root of relationships. When parents respond to children's sounds, actions and expressions, children learn that their sounds, actions and expressions have meaning. With or without words, kids learn to initiate communication, pay attention, respond, express clarity and change topics.

The third principle is that children are not born with executive functioning skills, but they are born with the capacity to develop them. Executive functioning skills include working memory, self-control and mental flexibility. The interactions and experiences children have in early childhood can help them focus, adjust, resist temptations and manage emotions. These skills are essential in getting along, achieving goals and becoming part of a civil society.

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The Daily Vroom app gives you access to more than 1,000 tips appropriate for your child's age, as well as the brainy background (or science) behind the tips. For example, during bath time, give your 2-year-old different size containers to scoop and pour water. Encourage her to explore and compare the containers and talk about what she's doing. The app will point out that children learn best through hands-on exploration in playful, commonplace ways. When you help your child set up experiments to learn how the world works, she'll employ math and science concepts and develop critical thinking skills, as well.

You can choose tips related to changing diapers, cleaning up, doing laundry, going to bed or being in the car, on foot or at the park. Brushing hair can become math, getting dressed can improve self-control and eating peas can explain cause and effect. Your child's development begins and grows with you.

To sign up visit joinvroom.org

 Deirdre Pepin is the Resource Development and Public Relations Coordinator at Horizons Specialized Services

5 brain-building basics

  • Look: Make eye contact with your child.
  • Chat: Talk about things you see, hear and do. Explain what’s happening around you.
  • Follow: Let your child lead. Respond to her sounds and actions. When she starts talking, ask questions like “What do you think caused that?” and “Why do you like that?”
  • Stretch: Make interactions last longer by building on your child’s words and actions.
  • Take turns: Use sounds, words, facial expressions and gestures to go back and forth to create games or conversations.

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