It’s been a busy start to the year, with plenty of new and returning clients.  In the months since February, I’ve had numerous conversations about the impact of memory on a child’s learning. While no expert, I’ve been reading up on the topic and thought I’d share strategies which can form a critical part of a child’s learning experience.  I should note, we need to pay careful attention to a child’s reactions to these strategies and help them to choose those that closely match his or her preferred ways to learn.

1.  Repetition: Multiple repetition of the information provides rehearsal, but doing so can bore kids.  When bored, the brain can go into a similar pattern as that of a “screen saver” on your computer monitor.  Therefore, try for humour, movements, songs and other forms of novelty when presenting new information.

For example: Consider the task of learning the capital cities in each Australian state.  You might:

– Practice saying the capital and state together, as in “Brisbane: Queensland, Sydney: New South Wales” etc. The helps create the association between the two words.

– Develop silly mnemonics to help remember which capital goes with the state.  For Victoria, sketch a person of a mother holding a baby saying “Mel was born in Victoria!” This associates the word “Melbourne” with “Victoria”. 

– Practice matching flash cards of capitals to state names, and states to capitals.

– Perform a motor activity such as jumping on a small trampoline or tossing a ball in the air while saying the city in response to hearing the state, or vice versa.

– Create a rap or jingle (changing the lyrics to a familiar tune) for each state and its capital. 

– Use a visual organiser (e.g., blank map of each state) to arrange and complete with a mark for each capital city. 

For more information and examples, look at LEARN: Playful Strategies for All Students (Richards, 2001) and The Source for Learning and Memory Strategies (Richards, 2003).