How to increase your child’s brain power with techniques that actually work?
Your child’s performance at school may depend on numerous factors, but one is crucial – good memory. Contrary to popular belief that one’s memory capacity is impossible to improve, the truth is quite different: one’s memory can be trained, the same as one’s muscles.
In fact, some people famous for their great brain power actually don’t possess photographic (eidetic) memory, but similar potential as the rest of us. The main difference is that they implement different techniques to help them improve their memory.
The good news is that these techniques can be used by anyone, including your child. If you start training their memory on time, you will help them improve their academic performance.
If you are wondering how to increase your child’s brain power, we have prepared simple, but very effective techniques that can help you with that.
But, first of all:
Why do we memorize some things and forget others?
Memory is one of the basic human functions. Thanks to it, we are able to learn and apply what we’ve learned. In other words, learning and memory are dependent on each other. However, mechanisms that lie behind human memory, and the causes why we memorize certain things while forgetting others are still a mystery.
What we know for sure is that there are three steps in the memory process:
It refers to a moment when our brain initially learns information, or a situation and perceives the sound, image and other sensory stimuli related to it. For example, when a child first visits an amusement park, their memory of that place will be formed from:
- visual sensations: carousels with horses, motorbikes and carriages, red, yellow, green and blue bumper cars, etc.
- auditory sensations: laughter and murmur of the crowd, screaming of children on the swing ride, music of the carousel and other rides;
- smell: cotton candy, donuts, candied apples, and other smells typical of amusement parks can also remain in the child’s memory.
If a certain meaning or factual knowledge is added to such a memory, we have semantic encoding. For example, a child can memorize the amusement park as a place where they have fun, and where their parents take them as a reward for good behavior. This step – assigning a certain meaning to different stimuli that constitute a memory is very important. Specifically, scientists have established that we remember things better and longer if we attach a certain meaning to them.
All this information is stored in different parts of the brain. Neurons send signals to each other, thus creating temporary or longer-lasting connections, and it is these connections between neurons that make up human memory.
Memory can be short-term or long-term. Short-term memory comprises information that is transferred to long-term memory after a while, or completely forgotten. For example, when you send your child to the store, they will memorize the shopping list. After they buy all the items from the list, they no longer need it, and will forget it.
On the other hand, long-term memory comprises information that stays with us for days, years or a lifetime. For example, the child will always remember how to ride a bicycle, swim, their first day at school or a holiday where they had fun.
In order for the brain to activate a memory, it must re-tread the pathways between neurons created at the same time as the memory itself. Frequent recollection can additionally strengthen these connections and make the memory last longer. This is why repetition is so important in learning.
These recollections don’t always have to be faithful reproductions of the way things happened. One’s awareness of the present can often become part of the memory: in other words, new information can be confused with old information, hence the phenomenon known as unreliable memory.
Recognizing these steps is important, because they can help us discover the secret of: How to improve memory? As we said, memory can be trained, and the best results are achieved if you start on time.
There are a number of techniques you can use to improve your child’s memory.
How to improve children’s memory?
First of all, children need to cultivate a healthy and balanced lifestyle, which involves the following:
1. Good sleep
A good night’s sleep, and even an occasional nap during the day can significantly improve a person’s memory. Scientists believe that sleep not only prevents our brain from forgetting things, but helps it remember. A study has shown that people who slept 8 hours after studying could recall things better than those who didn’t sleep at all. It’s simple, sleep acts as a kind of reset button for our brain allowing it to rest and preventing the neurons from becoming overloaded.
So, it is important that your child doesn’t waste time checking social media and looking at their phone at night, because lack of sleep is the cause of poor concentration, and poor concentration impairs memory. If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain cannot rest, and that means reduced performance, including memory.
Naps can also play a significant role. One study found that sleeping 45 to 60 minutes after learning something new boosts memory by 500%. Finally, if your child has no time to sleep in the afternoon, a few minutes of meditation, i.e. rest accomplished through deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help their brain rest and continue studying.
2. Physical activity
Quality exercise, especially outdoors such as running or playing sports can significantly improve memory. The brain needs oxygen to be able to work properly, and physical exercise improves blood flow to the brain. In fact, some studies show that respondents who engaged in physical activity had better memory than those who didn’t. This is why it is important to enroll your child in different extracurricular activities and enable them to be physically active, because physical activity helps kids clear their thoughts.
3. Healthy diet
The human body is like a machine: to work properly, it needs fuel, i.e. quality food. This means that a child’s diet must be rich in nutrients that maintain stable energy levels, improve concentration, and provide quality building blocks for protein. Make sure that your child eats enough vegetables, fruit, good fats, quality fish and meat. Students often eat unhealthy food from bakeries and fast food restaurants which, in addition to having a negative impact on their bodies, also hinder learning. This is why schools that provide quality, healthy and balanced snacks are the right choice for your child.
In addition to these healthy habits, your child can improve their memory using the following memorization techniques.
7 ways to improve children’s memory
DEVELOP THEIR VISUALIZATION SKILLS – encourage your child to visualize the image of what they are reading or listening. If, for example, they are learning about historical figures, encourage him/her to imagine them in his/her room doing something. Take your child to museums or historical sites, if possible. Create a small play, and play the roles of knights, soldiers, kings, everything the child is learning about. Children will memorize tangible things more easily than abstract words or concepts they hardly understand. If you do this, forgetting the names of historical figures will become a thing of the past.
PLAY EDUCATIONAL VIDEO GAMES THAT STIMULATE VISUAL MEMORY – video games are not just entertainment and a way to kill time. Nowadays, we have a number of educational video games that help children to nurture and strengthen various skills. Many of these games develop children’s memory, which is why you should play memory games, logical video games, and puzzles with them. The purpose of the game is to help the child develop their memory, and consequently, acquire new knowledge and skills with ease.
READ TOGETHER – read interesting texts with your child, underline the most important parts, and discuss it later. Ask them what they think about the text, encourage them to provide their own judgments. This way, your child will expand their knowledge, acquire general knowledge and learn to think critically about what they’ve read.
ENGAGE ALL THEIR SENSES – children learn faster and better if they use more than one sense in the process. If they are learning about apples, for example, take them to the market where they can touch, taste and smell different kinds of apples, instead of just reading about them in the book.
ACRONYM TECHNIQUE – there is a trick that can help you teach your child how to memorize data most easily. This technique is used when we need to memorize a formula or enumeration. For example: the force acting on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by the acceleration of the object (F=mXa), which can be reformulated as follows: “Footballers of Milan and Ajax”.
INTEGRATE NEW INFORMATION WITH OLD KNOWLEDGE – a child will memorize new information more easily if they integrate it with prior knowledge. These can include the simplest things that help the child remember, such as associating a past trip to the zoo with learning about lions at school.
BUILD A MEMORY PALACE – one of the main tips for people who want to improve their memory is teaching them to master the memory palace technique.
A memory palace, mind palace or the method of loci is one of the most effective and proven tricks for improving memory. This memorization technique was used by ancient orators, because it represents a simple and fun way to easily memorize different things: from long speeches to shopping lists. Some memory champions claim that this method enabled them to achieve exceptional results and that it is actually a great way to memorize huge amounts of data even if a person possesses an average memory.
How does this technique work?
It is actually very simple – the point is to associate a familiar location (your home, childhood neighborhood, or the way to school) with things you are trying to memorize. It is effective because it places images of the things you are trying to memorize in a space that you already have strong memories of.
How can your child implement this technique?
- Let them imagine themselves standing in their memory palace. It can be their room, the house you live in, or some other place they know well.
- Let the child walk through their memory palace and identify specific locations where they could store the things they want to memorize. Each of these locations is a point to which they can attach an idea or thing they are trying to memorize. For example, the door to a room can be one point, the desk another, and the light can be the third point. It is important that the child memorizes these points so that, wherever they think about that room, they can always picture the points in it.
- Let them associate the things they need to memorize with those places. For example, if they are learning something in Science & Social Studies, they can imagine moss climbing the door, the desk turning into an animal, and the light becoming a fruit tree. Simply, the more unusual the image is and the more detail it has, the more likely it is to remain in the memory.
Memory games for children
In addition to these memorization techniques and tricks, another great way to help your child train their memory are various memory games.
1. MATCHING PAIRS CARD GAME. The deck comprises pairs of cards with pictures of animals, numbers, letters and objects.
How to play: Shuffle the cards and put them face down. Every player picks two cards in a row, and if the cards match, they draw more cards, if not, they return to the initial position and the next player draws cards. This game helps children develop their memory because they have to remember where they saw each card, and try to match all pairs.
2. WHAT’S MISSING? To play this game, you need a tray and random household objects.
How to play: Place several objects on the tray. The older the child, the more objects you can use, but for small children, use 3-4 small objects.
Tell the child to study each object on the tray, name them, and you can discuss what they are used for (the more you talk about them, the better the child will memorize each object). Cover the tray with a cloth, ask your child to close their eyes for a moment, and remove one object from the tray. When the child opens their eyes, ask them which object is missing. Version for older children: Place more objects on the tray, and give your child a whole minute to look at them, then cover the tray and tell the child to write down or draw any object they can think of.
3. CONTINUE THE SEQUENCE: This game is played as follows – the first player begins with the sentence: “Today I went to the shop and bought (name of the product, e.g. bananas)”. The second player continues by saying: “Today I went to the shop and bought (names the product the first player listed, and then adds another, e.g. ice-cream)”. The game continues by each new player adding new products while trying not to forget the previous ones. The game ends when one of the players forgets to list all the products.
4. NUMBER SEQUENCE: This is a version of the previous game only with numbers, which makes it more abstract and thus suitable for older children.
How to play: The first player says a one-digit number, the second player repeats that number and adds another one. The game continues until one of the players forgets one of the numbers in the sequence.
5. MEMORIZING CARDS: This memory game can be played with a standard deck or with picture cards. Five cards are placed on the table. The player has to memorize all five, as well as the order in which they were drawn. The second player takes the cards, shuffles them, and returns four cards on the table. The first player must identify the missing card.
These memory games can really improve your child’s memory and their performance at school, but they can also help you train your own memory, so why not have fun together.