In our everyday life, as adults we have a lot of things to remember and the same rings true for your child. Algorithms. Schedules. Formulas. Vocabulary words. Writing assignments. Upcoming test dates. Dates with friends. The list goes on and on of things that your teen is trying to commit to memory.
Every time we take in something new with our senses, our brain briefly holds onto that information. This short-term “holding tank” is our short-term memory. This “holding tank” is very, very small. In fact, if we don’t do something with that information, it will be forgotten rather quickly. That’s right – in order to move this information over to our long-term memory, we need to DO something with it. There are some proven tricks to help improve your memory and move this information from short-term storage to long-term. These tricks work great for people of all ages, but they will be very beneficial when your student is trying to retain information for an upcoming quiz or test!
Put it to music.
If you think back to your earliest memories, one of the first things you learned was the alphabet. To this day, if you are asked to recite the alphabet, you will most likely sing the ABC song. The easiest way to memorize those 26 letters was to put it to song and look, it stuck with you all these years! Encourage your teen to create their own song, rap, or rhyme with the facts they are learning. They could even put their facts to the tunes of their favorite song or create a new one. Doing a simple internet search of songs for the periodic table will give tons of examples to get your teen started. When material is interacted with in such a creative way, it is sure to become a long-term memory.
Scan, read, recall.
Does your student ever find themselves reading a chapter in a book and then afterwards they have no idea what they just read? It happens to the best of us all the time! Sometimes we aren’t fully present and our mind is wandering in a million different directions. To make sure they are taking in what is being read, first ask them to scan the reading for pictures and headings. These are clues as to what the material will be about. Next, as they begin to read, ask them to stop and recall what it is that they just read. This pattern of scanning, reading, and recalling will help lock the key points into memory. It may sound time-consuming to read this way, but it beats having to read and re-read the text over and over again.
An acronym is a word or name formed as an abbreviation from the initial letters or syllables in a phrase or word. We’re all used to learning with acronyms because they are so effective. Some examples that many people have heard of include:
- HOMES: Used for memorizing the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior)
- ROY G BIV: Used for memorizing the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
- FANBOYS: Used for memorizing conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
The easiest way to make an acronym is to list out what you need to remember and then try to make up a word based on the list you made. Sometimes it takes a moment, but with some creativity, the acronym will be sealed in your long-term memory forever!
Break facts into groups.
It’s impossible to memorize huge groups of information. It’s an overload for your brain and even if you were able to somehow memorize the facts, they would soon be forgotten because it’s not a realistic way to have your brain store the information. Breaking large information down into smaller groups is the way to go! Consider this number: 4398071625. Now consider this number: 439-807-1625. The numbers are the same but when it’s broken down into a phone number format, it’s much easier to remember. Grouping facts by what they have in common is the easiest way to sort information. Whether people sort things by color, size, region, or characteristics is up to them and the material at hand. Just remember to make sure the groups make sense to you and then memorizing what is in the groups will come easier.
Give your brain a rest.
If your teen had a particularly hard study session, have them take a brief cat nap. Research shows that resting your brain helps transfer short-term memories into long-term. So, whether it is a short power nap or a good night’s rest, be sure to let your rest give your brain a boost.
How does your teen prep for a big test? Do they have any tricks to lock key information into memory? Leave us a comment and let us know! We’d love to hear from you. Also feel free to share your memory tricks with the My Virtual Academy community over on our Facebook page.