Tips to help your child improve their memory
Did you know that the human brain’s ability to store information is virtually limitless? Our brains can never fill up with too much information. However, when it comes to remembering what we have stored, we sometimes run into a problem. A study was conducted in Japan and it found that every 1 out of 10 young adults (aged 20-35) out of the 150 that were tested had serious difficulty remembering information provided. Many believe that this is directly linked to dependency on electronic devices like computers and cell phones that require less use of the human brain today. What does this mean for our young children, if they have technology available to do their thinking for them?
It’s never too early to start working on your child’s memory. There are many games and activities that can be played with a variety of age groups that aid in improving memory without the use of technology.
Activities for Children Aged 4-5:
Introducing the game, Memory to children in this age group is a great idea if you have not done so already. A variety of games can be purchased or even made by using index cards; asking players to create some kind of match. The matches can be 2 identical images, a mother and baby animal, or an object and it’s setting; like a book and a library; just to name a few. Memory is a great game to play because it requires children to visualise and remember which object is where, in order to make a match. Simply take the cards with the images on them, shuffle them, and place them face down in three identical rows. Placing cards in more than three rows presents a challenge for children in this age group, but is welcome if the child becomes extremely proficient with the game. Take turns flipping two cards over. If they match, you remove them from the game. If they are not a match, they stay where they are and you must try and remember what is on the card for future matches as you turn the cards back over. Play until all of the cards have a match. Children are often far much better at this game than adults!
Activities for Children Aged 6-7
Now You See It, Now You Don’t
This is a fun game to play with your household items. Place 15-25 items on your table. Give your child one minute exactly to study the table and its contents. Tell your child to close their eyes, still trying to visualise which items are where. Remove one item from the table. Instruct your child to open their eyes and see if they can tell you which item is missing. Eventually, feel free to add more items, or remove more items. This will build your child’s visualisation techniques and improve their short term memory!
Activities for Children Aged 8-9
I’m Going On A Picnic
This activity requires no items; just your child’s brain! Say the phrase, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring some _______.” Since you said the statement first, you need to name some kind of item that begins with the letter A. Next, your child repeats the same beginning phrase, your selection, and then they have to add the word “and” and tell you what they would bring that starts with the letter B. Repeat this process, going through the entire alphabet.
An example may sound like this:
“I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring some apples, bananas, carrots, donuts, and eggs.”
Your child doesn’t just have to remember the items, but the letters of the alphabet that succeeds the previous. You can play this activity at home, on a walk, driving in the car, or even while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. Feel free to switch up the subject. The game does not have to be about just picnic items. You can use prompts like:
“I’m going to the zoo and I’m going to see some ________.”
“I’m going to the beach and I’m going to see some _______.”
“I’m walking in the park and I’m going to see some _______.”
If they cannot remember the items, if they say them in the wrong order, or if they start with the incorrect upcoming letter of the alphabet, the game is over!
Activities for Children Aged 10-12:
How many is a memory game that involves studying arrays and recalling the total number displayed. On large index cards, create a variety of arrays. You can have 5 dots in a row, 3 groups of 5 dots, 2 groups of 8 dots, 4 groups of 4 dots, etc.
Be sure to hold up one index card at a time. Once you expose the array to your child, count to five, and then put the card down. Ask your child how many dots in total are on the card. Children at this age will quickly understand that they do not have enough time to individually count each dot. They will put their strategising, visualising, and short term memory to use in order to calculate a total for each card. Once 5 seconds becomes too easy for them, reduce the exposure of the cards by a second each time.
Also involving the use of large index cards, write 8 words in one row with no spaces in between them. For example, one card can look like this:
Give your child 3 seconds to look at the line or words and put the card down. Ask them to recite the individual words back to you. Studies have shown that most people can remember things in chunks of three. Your child will tend to do this naturally and will usually recite the first 3 words to you and then the next 3-4 words to you in their answer; much like the way we recite and remember a phone number. They may also subconsciously try to make sense of combining words to create a compound word as a memory aid/technique.
Be sure to decrease the word exposure to 2 seconds once your child become proficient with this game!
These activities are effective and fun for improving memory. With the rise of children depending on technology, you may want to make the effort to get back to basics and work on some memory games to exercise the brain and ensure a strong memory!