Human memory is sublime. This is very prominent in the case of children because they are continuously learning new things like reading, writing, socializing etc. They have a flickering mind. and are distracted easily. They try to do many things simultaneously as was the case with my daughter, Asya, who was smart, inquisitive, had great presence of mind and a quick learner. But her Nursery class teacher complained that she got confused easily, had difficulty recollecting alphabets, numbers, colours or shapes.
My software background had taught me to do Root Cause Analysis of every problem. But with regards to a child, it is very important to analyze the situation from their point of view. Through interactions with Asya and going through the CCTV footages of her class activity, I could make out that the real problem was with the retention mechanism. She could grasp but could not memorize properly and thus could not recollect later. Researches also suggest that grasping power and retaining power are totally different concepts of the brain.
At this point I would like to admit that I knew very little about parenting and made some mistakes as a first time parent. One of which was to take the forgetful nature of my child as normal for her age.
Presenting below are some practices which I followed to improve the memory span of my child which proved very beneficial in the course of time.
1. Write as you read
Writing leaves an imprint on the brain because you think as you write. Your brain actively participates. Hence, the more you write, the better you remember and for a longer period of time. I started with this tried and tested method. I made a routine that one-third of her total study time would be for writing what she had read that day. Initially, she hesitated but when I got her white board and colour markers she began to enjoy it. There was a gradual shift from board to notebooks. I also made sure not to teach her at a stretch, giving enough breaks in between to relax and rejuvenate.
As said above, the child is ever-learning new things and the structure of the memory is such that the recent activities overlap the old ones which eventually get archived. So, to avoid this we must revise. Start with revising the lessons you taught him/her the day before. Periodic revision keeps the memory fresh.
3. Improve the listening power and attention span
Listening power and attention span are directly related. To improve both, here is a simple exercise suggested by my psychologist friend.
Choose 5 different words and repeat them 5 times to your child. Give a break of 3-4 minutes and ask them to say those words in the same sequence. Based on how your child responds, gradually increase the number of words and decrease the number of repetitions. Start with once a day and then practice twice. Begin with small, familiar words before introducing new ones.
Read out to your kid and when you finish, ask him/her some questions or ask him/her to speak what he/she understood. These exercises can increase the attentiveness tremendously. Good attention means strong signal to the brain and thus improves retention power.
4. Teach a new language
It may sound strange but the fact is brain utilization is as much important as brain consumption and the best way to utilize a brain is to learn a completely new language. It strengthens the brain and increases memory power. As Asya was getting good doses of English and Hindi and was also picking up bits of some South Indian languages, I zeroed in on Arabic.
Playing is the best exercise for kids. But engaging your child to do something that has both mind and body involvement as well as fun for them would help improve memory. Word association game can be one of them. Dance and Yoga are of great help as both discipline mind and body.
6. Visual effects
This is very useful to teach colours and shapes. Make your child watch videos on them. The small kitchen garden in my balcony plus the fun activities like vegetable printing and pot painting helped Asya recognize colours better.
At the end of the academic session, the same teacher said that Asya has progressed remarkably. Her class participation has also improved. I realized that parents' satisfaction is directly proportional to teacher's comments! Teachers still complain about her but, thankfully, it is not related to studies anymore.
NB: Remember that the above practices are slow processes. So please do not expect any miracle overnight. Before carrying out any of the above activities, win your child's confidence. Make him/her understand as to why he/she needs to do them. Do not get frustrated by initial poor results. Each child is different and so are their capabilities.
Click on this link http://bit.ly/Appystore_AMemory to show a kids a karaoke rhyme about memory.
Click here to download the AppyStore app http://bit.ly/-DownloadApp
AppyStore provides videos and worksheets for kids up to 8 years, curated by child development experts.