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Brain Friendly Curriculums: Embedding the 5 R's of Healthy Brain Development into Early Childhood Programs

Transition from child care to full day kindergarten is challenging for many children. The role of the Registered Early Childhood Educator is to attempt to support a seamless and positive shift for the children in their care. In 2012, ZERO to THREE posted a study, Preventing child abuse and neglect: Parent provider relationships in child care, identifying five necessities for healthy brain development. Embedding these 5 R’s in the philosophy and every day programming of your program will ensure children have a strong neurological framework to handle the challenges of entering full day kindergarten.

The 5 R’s


Secure attachments give children the ability to explore their environment and learn. This is true for all environments, even new ones like FDK. Experiences gained through these interactions and explorations stimulate the developing brain.

Responsive Interactions

Consistently responding to children in a warm and caring manner while meeting their needs on a daily basis encourages ongoing interactions with a variety of people. Be sensitive, flexible and reciprocal. The safety and security developed from consistent responses promotes healthy brain development.


Treat children as valuable individuals honouring their unique temperament and characteristics. This builds self-esteem and confidence, and allows the child to present themselves with pride in new environments.


Predictable events happening daily build brain connections supporting memory and organization. Trust, stability, cohesion and a sense of consecutiveness is developed where children seek out and follow routines in new environments. There is a demonstrated correlation between routines and academic and social competence.


Do not be afraid to read the same stories, sing the same songs, and go on the same walks. The brain grows with every experience. The more you make that experience available the stronger the connections in the brain react and increase. The stronger the brain connections become, the better able they are to incorporate new information and understand as experiences change.

Source: Seibel, N.L., Britt D., Gillespie L.G., & Parlakian, R. (2009). Preventing child abuse and neglect:
Parent provider relationships in child care
. Washington, D.C.: ZERO to THREE.

Denise Palermo, Special Needs Resource Consultant ~ The Etobicoke Children’s Centre