Did you know a child’s first 5 years are when they develop the foundation for all future learning? The brain develops most rapidly during the first 5 years of life, and a popular free mobile app is helping parents make the most of each moment.
Several years ago a group of neuroscientists and child development experts began looking at how to boost the learning potential of babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Researchers at the Harvard Center on the Developing Child and the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington, as well as at other top institutions, were asking questions such as, “What tools help kids learn most? What games, activities, and products should we use? Does how we talk to our kids impact how much they can grab onto?”
The Bezos Family Foundation sponsored research into these areas, but also funded the creation of a tool to help place findings into the hands of parents and caregivers in an easy-to-use format. The solution was the creation of a free downloadable mobile app called Daily Vroom.
Daily Vroom helps parents use everyday moments as catalysts for booting their child’s learning potential. The app prompts users with quick tips that can be used throughout the day for interacting with a child, whether at home or when families are out, perhaps at the grocery store or local park. By just tapping an icon within the app, parents are given tips for building their child’s brain. For example, if the parent chooses “bath time,” the app suggests an imagination-filled bath-time game of make believe using a simple cup from the kitchen. When the cup becomes a fish searching for food, the parent and the child work together to create a story about what food the fish might find, or where the fish goes when it is beneath the water. This quick playtime makes use of developing skills in the child, asking him or her to pay attention, see how one thing can represent something else, create a sequence in a story, and communicate ideas.
Another tap on the screen provides an activity for after dinner, called “Dish Duty.” The prompt reads, “When putting away dishes, show baby (the app personalizes tips with the child’s name) two bowls and ask him/her if the container in your hand is big enough for an item sitting on the counter, like a piece of fruit. Then help him test it out to see if he/she was right!”
The “Brainy Background” for this activity shares with parents about the importance of helping their child learn how objects compare or fit together, and reminds parents to repeat the game a few times – repetition is how learning occurs!
Activities like the bath-time adventure or Dish Duty might not be appropriate for all ages, and the Daily Vroom app adapts. When the app is downloaded, parents are asked to enter the names and ages of the children in their household. Then app suggests activities that cater to each child’s stage in brain development.
Cedar Valley Readers recently participated in a local Parenting Fair and introduced a room filled with parents and caregivers to the free downloadable app. Part of the beauty of the app is that it helps boost confidence in parents, showing them that they possess everything they need to promote their child’s development. As the slogan goes, “You already have what it takes.”