Some children struggle with memory. This is especially true when learning something brand new when there isn’t already similar learning in memory. But, according to Dr. Gary Brannigan and Dr. Howard Margolis, there is help!
In their blogpost, My Child Has a Reading Disability, How Can Teachers Strengthen His Memory? they state that the beginning of helping with memory is attention. The child must pay attention, and to do so he must be interested. If not interested in what he is learning, he has less chance of remembering it. We have to work to make the learning interesting and meaningful to children.
According to Brannigan and Margolis, the acronym REMOS will help to remember the next steps in improving memory.
R - Repeat it.
E - Elaborate on it.
M - Make it meaningful.
O - Organize the information.
S - Schedule distributed practice.
So, to learn something like the names and locations of all 50 states, a student might begin with blank maps where she practices labeling the states first copying from another map and gradually doing them from memory. This repeats the information over and over again.
Then elaborate on the task by talking about states where she has visited and which states she drove through getting there. She can tell a friend about those experiences and ask whether or not her friend ever visited another state. Or, she might talk about stories she has read and where those stories took place.
This elaboration task also makes the learning more meaningful because she is remembering her own experiences. She might also make the map task more meaningful by drawing some pictures about the states she is having trouble remembering. If she adds color to the pictures, that might help her to recall that information better.
To organize the information, she might decide to divide the country into sections (states in the northeast, midwest, south) or perhaps by the starting letter of each state’s name putting each letter in a different color.
To make sure learning becomes permanent, she will need to schedule practice over a period of days rather than trying to learn everything the day before a test. Some research suggests that studying just before bed at night is helpful, since there appears to be a tie to getting enough sleep and having a good memory. (Check out the great articles on sleep here at SchoolFamily.com!)
Additionally, reviewing material some time later (like a month or two) will increase the likelihood that it stays permanently in memory.
I do not really like having to give tests and exams. They are time consuming to review for them, give them, and grade them. However, I have noticed that learning does not become real and permanent until students have spent time using the REMOS strategies when getting ready for a test and then a later exam.
When kids are out of school for summer, you have time to spend truly learning basic information that forms the foundation for higher level skills. For example, the faster your child can do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts, the better he will do in higher level math. See if you can figure out how to apply the RAMOS strategies to seal them permanently into memory!