How to Help Boost Your Child’s Memory
We all know how incredibly important it is to have a good memory during our lifetime. Whether this is to keep on top of growing piles of work, remember that all-important to-do list, or just to keep our daily lives in check, we use our memory almost constantly throughout the day. A child’s memory abilities as they grow up will be directly affected by how often their parents have encouraged them with memory exercises when they were younger. For this reason, it is important to think about this early on. In this article we have explored different ways to help boost your child’s memory.
Different memory types
Research from PennState Extension has found that children are, incredibly, able to recall memory from the time that they first develop an awareness of their own self, which is usually between 18 months and 24 months of age.
There are two different types of memory; long term memory and short term memory, also known as working memory. Some believe that working memory is a better predicator of how well a child will do at school than an IQ, but children need both a good long term and short term memory to be successful during their education.
Short term memory refers to the ability to remember recent events, such as details from a story, while long term memory refers to the ability to remember things such as friend’s names or how to ride a bike.
How big is your child’s memory capacity?
Our minds are the place where we make mental calculations, make predications, analyse events form new thoughts; much like a mental notepad. Each child has a different sized mental notepad, much like different sized computer RAM, which can be clearly seen in a classroom when some children can follow instructions easier than others.
Children with a low working memory can sometimes seem like they aren’t interested or aren’t listening, but this is not always the case. A smaller working memory can lead to trouble remembering what a task was, difficulty in forming language or a tough time working out maths problems.
A lower working memory is directly affected by age, and an average four year old will have a working memory of around half or a third of that of an adult. So if you believe that a child is having trouble keeping up with you, be sure to compare them to other children of the same age.
It’s also worth noting that a smaller working memory is not necessarily a sign of a lower intelligence. It will no doubt effect how your child learns, but it is not the same thing as IQ. It is also estimated that roughly 10% – 15% of children have working memory problems.
Signs that your child might have a lower working memory
These are signs worth looking out for that may suggest that your child has a lower working memory:
Can be reserved during group activities and may not answer a direct question
- Can find it hard to follow instructions
- May not follow a task properly and may even end up giving up with the task
- Can make place keeping errors, such as skipping or repeating steps
- May have difficulty with recalling events or information
- May seem inattentive or zoned out regularly
These are just some of the signs to look out for, but do not represent an exhaustive list. They can also be signs of other problems, and these things are always worth getting checked out by your doctor.
With memory specifically, if you believe that your child has memory trouble, then there are ways to boost your child’s memory, which we will explore in greater depth below.
Try memory boosting games
Memory boosting games are an obvious but great way to boost your child’s memory. You are probably familiar with childhood favourites such as Simon Says or Concentration, and others such as I Spy are good for getting a child familiar with recollection skills. Even simple tasks such as having your child play with different coloured toys, and then taking one away and asking which has gone.
Consider making memory games using your children’s toys
Teach your child visualisation skills
One great way to help boost your child’s memory is by teaching them visualisation skills. When talking to them, reading them a story, or giving them an instruction, ask them to create a mental image of what has just been said or read.
For example, if you have asked your child to set the table for four people, ask him or her to picture that in their heads, and then to draw it. Once you have been doing this for a while, you can ask them to describe it to you rather than draw it.
Other games such as board games or card games like Uno, Go Fish or Crazy Eights are other good memory boosting games. This is because they are expected to remember on several fronts; the rules of the game, the cards that they have and also what cards have already been placed down.
These are small games but they can go a long way in helping to boost your child’s memory.
Make time for physical games too
Physical activity has been cited as “miracle grow” for the brain by Tricia Ferrara, a family therapist. This is because physical exercise has been shown to produce biochemical activity in the body which helps prime a child’s brain to learn and remember things by strengthening connections in their mind. Therefore, it is a great idea to allow your child to run around and have a play both before and after learning!
Make sure that your child has plenty of time for physical activity too as this is great for boosting their memory
Start numbering your directions to your child
When giving directions to your child, begin sentences in such a way as “I need you to do two things…”. This will help a child begin to separate out the different points in their heads and to remember them better. The more often you do this with different directions, the more you will help to boost your child’s memory.
Be inquisitive and ask your child questions
Another great way to boost your child’s memory is by asking them regular questions about things they may have seen or heard. For example, if you have spent time at a park, ask them “Who was at the park?”, “What did you see at the park?” and similar questions along those lines.
Try connecting feelings of emotion to information
If your child begins to associate feelings of emotion with information, it gives them yet another way to process it and remember it. A great way to do this is by asking them to directly associate themselves with things that you are talking about. For example, if they are learning about the pyramids in Egypt, ask them to imagine what it must have been like to climb them with the heat beating down!
Look to connect other pieces of information as well
As well as looking for emotional connections between information, try to have your child make connections to pieces of information that they already know as this can help them to easily learn new memories.
For example, show them that the two times table is the same as doubling a number, for example: 6 x 2 = 12 and 6 + 6 = 12.
Sing a song to your child to help boost their memory
Continuously singing a song to your child, particularly one that they enjoy and can get involved with, is another way to help boost their memory. It is yet another way of teaching them to learn and store information, and the process of repeating it back to you will help with their memory skills.
Give your child a good diet
Make sure that your child is getting a good diet, as this is another way that will help to boost your child’s memory. Fish oil is known for its memory boosting benefits, and even simple things like water can help with a child’s concentration.
Also consider when you feed your child certain things; sugary foods and refined carbohydrates may give them a temporary energy boost but could leave them crashing later in the day and so unable to retain information as well.
Helping with other areas of your child’s life
As well as helping to boost your child’s memory, it is important that you focus on all of the other aspects of their life too. At ParentsNeed we have put together comprehensive guides and reviews to make the job of parenthood a little easier and to kid your child happy!
Image credits: Main Gratisography and Juan Salamanca