The development of your child's memory is fundamental for the growth of his personal, social and cognitive well-being. The ability to store and retrieve information at a later time is a neurological process that develops during your child's early years and can be nurtured throughout the entirety of his life. Utilizing simple, free activities and strategies to assist your child's memory development can provide useful tools for lifelong learning.
Make use of toys and objects around your home to occupy younger children with simple yet engaging memory games. The Montessori method of education incorporates memory games into many classroom activities as a way to encourage further exploration with materials and to teach new ways to use activities with which the child has had previous experience. As a parent, you can employ these styles of memory games with your child's toys at home. For example, if a child is playing with different objects, play a game of 'which one is missing?' Cover three or four objects with a cloth and remove one item as you pick up the cloth. Encourage your child to guess which object has been removed from the collection. Another simple memory game is 'collect and put away.' Using a box or basket, retrieve a collection of objects from around your house that have a permanent location such as a fork from the utensil drawer, a pair of socks from the dresser and a toothbrush from the bathroom. Once you have collected five or six objects, have your child try to remember where all of the objects go and put them away.
Engage in Conversation
Child psychologist and parent coach Lisa Dissinger, Ph. D, encourages parents to participate in regular discussions about experiences with their child as a way to increase memory. Ask your child questions about activities throughout the day, inspiring him to explain as many details as he can about a specific experience. If you take your child to the park in the afternoon, at dinner that evening you can ask questions related to the experience, such as what his favorite thing to do was, what the weather was like, which pair of shoes he was wearing and if he played with other children at the park. You can also stimulate your child's memory development by talking about events from the past, such as your last visit to his grandparents' house or the last holiday your family celebrated. Conversation is a natural and free way to encourage the development of your child's memory.
Elements to Incorporate
According to neurologist Judy Willis, MD, M. Ed., there are specific ways to enhance your child's ability to develop a strong memory. From a neurological perspective, Willis illustrates that incorporating color into your child's activities provides the brain with a more cohesive connection for memory development. If you are helping your child learn numbers, for instance, assign each number a different color that can always be the same when he is practicing with a particular set of numerals. You can make your own homemade number cards with each number 0 through 10 represented by a different color. If your child is older and is learning tens, twenties and beyond, designate a different color for each subset of numbers. Dr. Willis also suggests using attention-grabbers for increasing a child's memory -- your child is more likely to remember information if it is delivered in an interesting way. Attaching personal meaning to material being taught also helps children recall information. For older children, Willis emphasizes the importance of allowing short breaks during study periods in order for the brain to refresh its neurotransmitters.
You can teach your child simple tricks to help him remember specific information that he is learning. If you are teaching your child the difference between left and right, show him the trick of holding up your left hand and making the letter 'L' with your thumb and pointer finger -- 'L' is for 'left.' Another strategy to assist your child's memory development is breaking larger tasks down into smaller sequences. For preschool-age children, offer activities that focus on one aspect of a more complicated series of steps before expecting a child to complete an entire process on his own. For example, offer toys to your child that isolate one fine motor skill, such as a buttoning toy or a basket of containers like cups and jars to open and close. For older children, break up larger amounts of material to be learned into smaller sections. For example, if your child is memorizing a poem, separate the poem into multiple sections and have your child focus on one part at a time. Through consistent practice and repetition, your child's memory will continue to increase.