Kids forget stuff all of the time. Where they left their book bag. What day the next soccer game is. When Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.
Before writing kids off as hopelessly forgetful, consider that they may have simply never been taught how to remember.
As the World Memory Champions can tell you, there are tricks—simple tricks—that everybody can use to improve memory abilities.
So what’s the secret?
When it comes to improving your memory, the most important secret is … imagination.
And luckily for forgetful students, kids have a natural abundance of imagination.
Telling stories and visualizing details improves the ability to recall details. That’s because visual memory is larger and stronger than logical memory.
The main memory technique involves making visual associations. This is where imagination comes in. The associations do not have be logical or make sense. They only need to be relevant to the individual.
For students, it might be the only instance where being illogical, nonsensical, and random pays off in school.
Here are some of the best tips that filmmaker Josh Freed learned while filming his documentary
Where Did I Put My…Memory?
1. Numbers: Imagine numbers as shapes or common images. For instance, the number 5 could be a snake, the number 8, a snowman. Then, recall numbers by crafting a story around the numbers. This technique could be very helpful in helping young children remember phone numbers.
2. Placement: Always remember where you left something by imagining it blowing up. Rather than dropping off a book bag in the front hall, pause and visualize it blowing up. Or, maybe a less violent image for younger children—perhaps the image of taking a nap would work.
3. Names: Visualize something about a person’s name. Associate the first letter of the name with an object. For instance, the name Laura could be associated with a shamrock because she was wearing green when you met her, and shamrocks are lucky. Lucky and Laura both start with the letter L.
4. Singing. There has been much success with singing instructions and repeating the chorus. The Alphabet Song has been helping preschoolers learn the alphabet for years, while teacher Alex Kajitani has become known as the Rappin’ Mathematician for using rap to teach math skills to students.
5. Making up stories. Making lists and writing things down is a tried and true way to avoid forgetting, but when these sorts of memory aids are not available, making up stories can not only help people remember important tasks and details, it can actually help make the brain stronger, and less reliant on outside tools to aid recall.
Check out the article The Secrets of Mastering Your Memory for more information and for information about how technology will help memory in the future.