Concentration and memorization go hand in hand with learning. Our brains store new information by forming a specific neural pathway to where that information is stored. To recall that information correctly we need to trigger our brain to follow the same pathway back to the information.
Memory is a complex process, and 6- to 8- year-olds are developing a range of strategies to help them recall information. Remembering requires the ability to store information for a few seconds, then for several minutes while manipulating information and finally for an extended period of time. For example, when copying spelling words from the blackboard, children must first remember the sequence of letters, and then they need to write the words down without spending a lot of time looking back at the board. Many whisper the words under their breath or repeat the letters out loud to help themselves.
Here are some ways to help improve your child’s memory:
1.) De-stress: Stress causes the brain intake systems to send information into the Reactive brain and prevents information flow through to the Reflective higher thinking, conscious brain where long-term memory is constructed. Establish enjoyable rituals like favorite songs, card games, and ball toss or surprises like a fun picture downloaded and printed from the internet before study time to de-stress the study experience and open up the brain networks that lead to memory storage.
2.) Get their attention: Memorable events make long-term memories. Find out what your child will study next in school and hang posters advertising or giving hints about that topic and encourage them to guess what it might be. Curiosity open’s up the brain’s sensory intake filter so when the topic comes up in class or in reading it will grab their attention.
3.) Use color: The brain only lets in a small part of the billions of bits of sensory information available every second. A filter in the low brain decides what gets in. Color is something that gets through this filter especially well. Have your children use colored pens color code notes or words to emphasize high importance. You can have a picture of a traffic light on the wall and he can use green, orange, and red in order of importance, like the traffic light.
4.) Make it an unusual experience: If you add unusualness to a study experience it will be more memorable. Use video clips from the internet, put on a funny hat, put a scarf on the dog, light a candle right before your child begins to study. Their alerting system will be more open to processing and remember information that comes in after a novel experience.
5.) Personal experience: Children must care enough about information or consider it personally important, for it to go through the brain filters and be stored as memory. Use your child’s interests to connect them to the material. Make stories together using the information. Stories are great ways to remember new things because you child’s brain grew up hearing stories and the pattern for remembering stories is strong in their brain.
6.) Relational memory: The brain keeps information in short-term memory for less than a minute unless it connects with prior knowledge. Activate your child’s prior knowledge by reminding them of things you’ve done as a family or that they’ve learned in other subjects that relate to the new information.
7.) Make patterns: The brain is a pattern-seeking organ. When your children recognize relationships between new and prior knowledge their brains can link the new information with a category of existing knowledge for long-term storage. Charts, mnemonics, listing similarities/differences, and making analogies build long-term memory patterns.
8.) Mental manipulation: Once the information gets to the higher thinking brain your child must do something with it to build permanent memories. Your children can write summaries of new information in their own words. To make these even more personally meaningful the summaries can be in forms that suit their learning style preferences including sketches, skits, songs, dances, comic strips, or drawings.
9.) Practice: Information from each of the senses is stored in a part of the brain specific to that sense. Review material using multiple sensory activities so different neural networks store the knowledge in multiple brain regions. Your children’s brains will build multiple pathways leading to the stored memory, which makes retrieval more efficient. When a memory has been recalled often, this repeated neural circuit activation makes the memory stronger, like exercising a muscle.
10.) Play: Since children learn more by playing, it is always a good idea to try and make their activities a little more fun. Keep away gadgets, tablets and computers and allow children to play with regular toys, activities that improve concentration, and concentration exercises.
11.) Eat healthy: Eating healthy food has a direct link to how well a child concentrates. Eating junk food or food rich in sugar makes a child sluggish while food rich in proteins such as almonds, eggs and lean meat have the ability to raise awareness and increase concentration levels.
12.) Boost concentration by taking naps: Most children are able to concentrate best after a good nights’ rest. A power nap for twenty minutes after school or in the afternoon should also do the trick to increase concentration. All bathroom breaks, hunger pangs etc. should be taken care of before the study time begins as they have the tendency to interfere with concentration.