Vroom App Gives Parents Tips On Brain Building Basics For Kids Under 5 Years Old
PROVO, Utah – The majority of brain development happens within a child’s first five years of life. For parents, the responsibility of helping their children learn can sometimes be overwhelming. One Utah couple is using an app to create a better learning environment for their young daughter.
Travis Allred is first and foremost a dad to 2-year-old Madeline. “Madeline is super bright and precocious,” he described.
Travis has always been passionate about education. Today he is the Early Learning Project Manager at Envision Utah. His work centers around Five Before Five — a brain-building initiative designed to give parents the resources they need to help children through basic principles like love, talk, read, count, and play.
When he first started in this role, Madeline was only 4 months old.
“I was able to come home immediately and go, ‘OK, we need to be talking a lot more to our baby. We need to be just really, really filling her ears with lots of language,” he recalled. He and his wife Nichelle Allred, use an app called Vroom, which gives parents daily tips on how to help their child learn.
“It is a platform that provides tips to parents on ways that they can engage with their kids to really bolster their brain development and support healthy brain infrastructure in the early years of the kid’s life,” Jason Brown, vice president of communications and education at Envision Utah, explained.
Brown said every suggestion is founded in brain-building science and research. “They have all the best experts in early brain development, giving their input on these tips,” he said.
Each suggestion is also based on your child’s age.
“Every moment of your child’s life, their brains are busy building neural connections and growing,” Brown said. “The tips that it gives you are targeted to what is most developmentally appropriate.”
The tips are focused on everyday tasks, like grocery shopping or making dinner together. He said the free app and texting service is geared to help parents recognize that even life’s seemingly simple and mundane moments can be an opportunity for brain building.
This hit home for Nichelle when she was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of constantly talking to her little baby who couldn’t even talk yet. She received a tip suggesting she put Madeline on the bed with her while she folded laundry, put socks on her hands, and play with sock puppets.
“I would do that with her and it ended up being really fun. We just talked about, like the textures of the socks,” Nichelle described.
Travis said the biggest game-changer for him was when he received a tip about making funny noises when changing Madeline’s diaper.
“I’m realizing like, ‘Oh, I was changing diapers in silence. What a waste of an opportunity to be engaging with her and making bright faces at her,” Travis said.
Now, engaging in brain-building activities for the Allreds is second nature.
“After you do it a few times, you start to see your interactions with your child in a different way. You start to see opportunities that you have to have what we call brain-building moments with your kid,” Brown said.
To parents who may feel like they can’t handle one more thing on their plate, Allred reminded them that brain-building can happen anytime, anywhere. “You can count anything, right? You can count … in the car,” he said.
Brown reminds parents they don’t need any special toys or a fancy curriculum to help them succeed. “Every parent already has everything they need to build a child’s brain to create a strong healthy learning environment for their kids,” he said. The Allreds quickly noticed a huge expansion in Madeline’s vocabulary. “She would say a couple words, and then it turned into 10 and 20, and now it’s thousands,” Nichelle described.
“Now she’s at a point where she’ll just read to herself, honestly, sometimes for hours at a time. It has blown us all away,” Allred said. “As she’s acquired more words to describe how she’s feeling, she’s really been able to open up her personality.” As parents, watching Madeline grow is everything. “It is such hard work, but oh, my goodness is one of life’s greatest joys, life’s greatest blessings,” Travis said.
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