When your child struggles with remembering things, especially when it relates to learning, they can become frustrated. But there’s hope. Memorizing is a skill that can be learned and improved. Here are some ways you can help.
• Give your child increasingly complex instructions. Rather than tell him to go make his bed in the morning, you could instruct him that you want him to make his bed, brush his teeth, and put away his pajamas. Then, when you see that he completes multiple tasks in a row competently, add one or two more elements. Increase the difficulty until following multiple steps comes naturally for him.
• Assist your child by showing her how to chunk information into groups, rather than individual pieces. Much in the same way we can remember phone numbers by grouping them into sets of three and four numbers, your child will better remember pairs, trios, and quartets of information. The brothers down the street could be Joe. And Doug. But Joe-and-Doug is easier to recall.
• Psychologists suggest using multiple senses when “encoding” or inputting information. Each sense follows a different pathway to the brain, so when the same information travels multiple paths, there are more routes for retrieving it later. This is why teachers often incorporate songs and movements in the classroom, but you can use them at home too. When your child struggles to remember facts or concepts, help them create motions to match. For common facts such as states and capitals, you can often find songs online at sites such as songsforteaching.com.
• Teach your child how to use mnemonic devices—those funny sayings and acronyms created just for memorizing tricky information; such as “Always Eat An Apple, Says A Nurse” for the seven continents (Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, Antarctica, North America). Or, “The principal is your pal” for distinguishing between the homophones: principle and principal.
If one method doesn’t work, don’t give up. Keep trying until your child finds the memory tool that suits him best.