What you need to know about memory
If you want to commit multiplication facts to memory, it is worth taking time to look at some ways to make information easier to remember.
- Memory requires attention. When your daughter tells you the name of her friend’s new guinea pig, while you’re cooking dinner, and the TV is on, you probably won’t remember the name the next day.
- Unusual or unexpected things are easier to remember. You might remember the guinea pig’s name if it was Carnivore, because it is an unusual name for a guinea-pig.
- Contradicting (2) but true never-the-less, things that are expected, because they follow a pattern, are easier to remember. If the girl called her first pet (a dog) Apple, her cat, Banana. and her newest pet, the guinea pig “Carrot” you could probably remember it by using the pattern to work out it was a vegetable starting with C.
- Things that have emphasis are easier to remember. “Carnivore”, always said with an emphasis on the first syllable and a scary voice, may be easier to remember than “Purple”, even though both would be unusual names for a pet.
- More “padding” of information makes it easier to remember. If your daughter told you that the guinea pig was called Carnivore, because her friend was going to train it as a guard dog, you’d be even more likely to remember the name.
- Links to prior knowledge or experiences really help. If Carnivore was your Granddad’s nickname for you as a child, you’d have a better chance of remembering the guinea pig’s name.
- Repetition is important. If your daughter wants a guinea pig of her own and talks about Carnivore morning, noon and night, you’ll never forget the name!
- Variety in this repetition helps too. Imagine Carnivore spoken at the dinner table, written on the window in condensation, acted out as the hero in a bedtime story, sung in the car when you pass the pet shop, murmured while you’re brushing her hair in the morning etc…
- More sensory input helps. If your daughter shows you a picture of Carnivore at the same time as telling you his name, you’re more likely to remember it. If she says “Carnivore is so tiny – all white and fluffy” she’s helping you remember by getting you to visualize Carnivore (and “padding” with info – see 5 above) .
- Similarly, linking the name with an action or a sound helps. If your child grabs your arm and bites it as she tells you the guinea pig is CARNIVORE, you’ll find the name easier to remember.
- Things are easier to recall if you’re in the same situation as when you first learned them. If the kitchen was full of hot curry smells when you were talking to your daughter about Carnivore, the smell of curry may help recall the conversation.
- Stress makes memory difficult. That’s one reason why it is so hard to remember names when you’re introduced to a whole group of new people at once. You’re so worried about what impression you are making, that your memory just seems to switch off.
These principles can be applied to helping your child memorize times tables.