Becoming a Master of Memory: Learning Tips

Learning Tips, Tips for Parents, Tips for Students
Mary Lonsdale
Can anyone become a master of memory? Here are our tips.

Good memory and academic achievement often go hand in hand.

A keen memory can improve examination results, grades, and also enhance a student’s general scholastic performance. The really good news is that great recall doesn’t just happen by chance. Many people aren’t born with a fantastic memory – in fact, these skills are developed over time.

Here are some of Mentor Education’s top tips for boosting both short-term and long-term memory power.

Mastering Memory: Tips and Tricks

Enhancing memory skills is a valuable asset in every student’s arsenal. In this post, we will explore various strategies to help your child improve their memory retention and recall abilities. Active learning takes centre stage as we delve into the power of engagement, questioning, and critical thinking. We will also discover the efficacy of transforming information into catchy rhymes and captivating visuals that stimulate different parts of the brain. 

We also explore the significance of personal connections and the benefits of having your child teach you the subject matter. Finally, we’ll uncover the surprising advantages of forgetting and relearning in different ways. With a combination of these techniques and a commitment to practise, your child can boost their memory prowess and unlock their full academic potential.

Encourage active learning

Active learning doesn’t mean doing jumping jacks whilst studying (though there is some evidence that physical activity can be conducive to learning!). No, active learning involves true interrogation of the material: developing a more intense engagement through discussion, questioning, and undertaking comprehension-based activities. 

When studying a text or working through a problem, 

Encourage your child to ask questions and express their thoughts while studying a text or tackling a problem. When you dedicate time to formulating queries and providing answers, your child not only develops their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, but also cultivates a deeper understanding of the topic. 

Actively engaging with the material in this way increases the likelihood of information being committed to memory. Through active learning, your child becomes an active participant in the learning process, fostering a more profound connection with the subject matter and promoting effective retention.

By stimulating discussion and encouraging critical thinking, active learning transforms studying into an interactive experience. It empowers your child to challenge and question the content, leading to a deeper exploration of the topic.

As they actively engage with the material, they develop a comprehensive understanding that transcends rote memorization. Active learning not only enhances problem-solving abilities but also instills a sense of ownership over the learning process. When a child immerses themselves in active learning practices, your child becomes an independent thinker, capable of grasping concepts more effectively and retaining information for the long term.

Make it rhyme

It’s an old trick, but an undeniably powerful one: turning information into a poem or song. This uses different parts of the brain, and can make it easier to recall specific details about the topic under discussion: it translates the material into a pattern, which our brains are wired to recall more easily.

Incorporating rhymes as mnemonic devices engages multiple cognitive processes simultaneously. The rhythmic and melodic elements of rhymes stimulate the auditory cortex, enhancing auditory processing and aiding memory retention. By providing a structured and memorable framework, rhymes enable the brain to encode and organise information more effectively. Active participation in creating or reciting rhymes further reinforces the neural connections associated with the learned material, leading to improved memory recall.

This approach engages different parts of the brain, facilitating the recall of specific details about the topic. Rhymes provide a mnemonic structure that aligns with the brain’s wiring, making the information more accessible and easier to remember in the future.

Make it visual

Again, a multisensory approach can really aid recall. This time, introduce visual tools: create flashcards, drawings, or even mind maps. Not only can pictures spark a valuable cognition process, but also forging connections between words, images and different topics brings another dimension to a pupil’s understanding – all of which helps with information retention. Colour-coding and visual organisation (splitting info into small chunks which are signposted by a distinct heading or quote, for example), can also be really useful.

Make it personal

Whilst this is not always applicable – not every mathematical problem can be related to a personal experience, after all! – if you can find ways to make the topic correlate to something your child has actually experienced, it’s likely to stick in their memory. This exercise provides a different way of forging connections: it creates a deeper sense of meaning and resonance, both of which help the student to remember important details more easily.

Turn the tables

For this exercise, you’ll need to put your child in the driver’s seat: they are the ones who will need to teach you! Pretend you know little about the material they’ve been studying, and ask if they can describe what they’ve learnt: ask them to show you how to solve the problem, or explain the story or scientific process. You could even set up a scoring system and give them extra points (or a little treat) based on how much they remember. Then, if you identify any gaps in their knowledge, go back over the topic with the relevant materials in front of you and talk through any queries.

Bonus tip: forget it!

One of the most important exercises for boosting memory is to perform a test – which means giving oneself time to forget! Set your child the task of learning something and then wait a period of time – a week is a good rule of thumb – before quizzing them to see how much they remember.

If there are elements that have been forgotten, make note, and then embark on the process of re-learning –  but mix it up when you do so (change locations, change style [use visual aids or songs if you haven’t already], change positions: if the previous ‘period of study’ on this topic was conducted whilst sedentary, for example, try moving around!). This tactic – approaching the same topic but in a different way – can sharpen focus and enhance clarity by building on the foundations of what you’ve already done. Most importantly, keep trying! Anyone can improve their memory skills, but it does take time, patience and effort.

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