Monet Constant cherishes the time when ordinary routines with her 4-year-old daughter Sanaa, become brain building moments.
On week day mornings, while Constant is busy preparing to go to work, she lets Sanaa flick the light switch. Turning on the light stimulates Sanaa’s brain and also serves as a teaching tool in thinking how much control she has over light and darkness.
As a Christian parent, Constant looks for brain building moments whether she and Sanaa are at home, or out in the community.
“I think [flicking the light switch] is a great activity to teach your child about choices and how they can control the choices they make. This activity can teach your child that just as they have control with the light switch, you also have that control within yourself. You control whether you will walk in light or darkness all by your choices. Matthew 5:14 says that “We are the light of the world.”
A tight schedule
A busy mom, Constant runs a tight schedule. On school days, she helps get Sanaa dressed, fixes her hair, and packs her lunch. As the pair sing gospel songs together, they head out the door. After Sanaa is dropped off at her pre-kindergarten program, Constant drives to her job as a kindergarten teacher in the School District of Philadelphia.
Striking a work-life balance is hard. Being a full-time teacher and mother is harder, yet Constant knows the tools of career and motherhood are in her, set to be sharpened.
Vroom, an initiative of the Bezos Family Foundation, says that the time you have is all you need to be a brain builder. Vroom was born out of early childhood research that shows that the first five years of life are when a brain develops the fastest. The goal of Vroom is to support parents with tips and suggest activities that inspire positive interactions between parents and children to promote healthy brain development in children birth to five.
Collaborators of the Vroom initiative consist of leaders in parenting and early childhood development such as Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of developmental psychology at Temple University, and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Hirsh-Pasek authored numerous articles and books on parenting.
Parenting is a balancing act
One of several brain building activities that Vroom suggests is for parents to let their child flip the light switch and talking about how their actions helped affect light and darkness.
Finding a balance between work and family is hard, most parents say. In the latest survey on among all working parents with children under age 18, more than half (56 percent) said that it is difficult for them to balance the responsibilities of their job with the responsibilities of their family. Another 14 percent said that is very difficult and 42 percent said it’s somewhat difficult.
In the same survey, four-in-ten full-time working mothers said they always feel rushed in doing the things they have to do. Another 50 percent said that they sometimes feel rushed, while 10 percent said they never feel rushed.
Brain building time in school
A brain building program for toddlers and their families in the School District of Philadelphia is the Families and Schools together (FAST). The FAST program is a program for kindergarten and first grade families to build a strong bridge between home and school. The program provides a variety of services that include activities for children, free meals with family and school friends, and a place where parents can spend time with their children and network with other adults.
The first five years of a child’s life shape their future. Moments are maximized when parents use what’s already in them. Brain building moments are everywhere.