How to stimulate the memory of children

The learning process is complex and memory intervenes as the protagonist. To enhance the memory we must know its operation and use it to our advantage. How to stimulate the memory of children has a trick: it is necessary to improve how they study participating in learning and memorize with techniques so that they study effectively and efficiently.

The brain is constantly coding new memories and accessing memories. We use our memory to perform activities such as calculating distances, riding a bicycle, talking about what we did the previous day, being exposed to a new scenario, reading a book or voluntarily when we want to memorize something.

What is memory?

Memory has three levels or compartments: sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.

1. Sensory memory it is where all the stimuli that surround us enter. This memory is activated unconsciously and can send information directly to the short-term memory, where it becomes conscious information, or can pass to long-term memory where it would remain unconscious.

2. Short-term memory it is comparable to that information of which we are aware here and now. What defines what enters and what does not enter into short-term memory is attention. Everything that goes through short-term memory goes to our long-term memory, but in spite of that we often do not remember things that we have learned or read consciously. This can be due to two reasons: not having codified the information well or not being able to access this memory.

3. Long-term memory It contains all the information about all the stimuli to which we are exposed. It is composed of all our memories, whether we are aware of them or not.

Memory and its development in school courses

During the first years of school life, memory works in a kind of automatic pilot where these processes are carried out without much will. Beginning at age 6, children voluntarily begin to want to encode a memory or access a specific memory in terms of studies.

Starting at age 6, the school curriculum begins to require students to have prior knowledge of concepts and events to enhance learning. It begins to require a greater use of memorization to be able to continue advancing in school learning.

Thus, it begins to be necessary that little by little children learn to encode short-term memories in long-term memory, and that they gradually learn to pass long-term memories to short-term memory.

Tricks to enhance the memory of children

1. Before memorizing something, you need to pay attention. The amount and quality of attention that we dedicate to a stimulus determines how correctly and quickly we remember it. For this reason, it is important that when studying there are not many distracting elements and no attempt is made to do more than one activity at a time. To achieve this, it is important that our children have a space specifically for their studies. This space must be free of all objects that are not specifically relevant to what is being studied. A study conducted in 2011 published by Dr. Gherri and Dr. Eimer, found that people who actively try to listen to music while studying, take longer to learn and encode information often not relevant, ignoring important pieces to learn.

2. To optimize the memory, It is better to divide the study sessions into topics or units instead of trying to study everything in one sitting. If the aim is to achieve long-term information retention, it is necessary to divide the periods of study into time spaces. The best way to get our children to remember what is studied in each unit is to have a moment after each study session to remember what they have studied.

3. To get the most out of memory it is important to sleep well. Sleeping provides an optimal condition for the consolidation of memories. Not only is there a time when there are fewer stimuli and the brain can better store what has been studied, but it is also the moment in which the brain integrates what has been studied with what is known. While we sleep, our memories stabilize in our long-term memory store. The more stable our memories are, the easier it is to access them later, the easier it will be to send them from the long-term memory store to the short-term memory. Ensuring that our children sleep well, we make sure that what they have studied will be remembered later. On the other hand during the sleep hours, our brain strengthens that relevant and important information and actively forgets that irrelevant information (Saletin and Walker, 2012).

4. Memory is optimized with active participation in one's own learning. The doctor.Kornell and his team of researchers, conducted a very interesting study where they showed that those people who actively participate in what they learn, remember better what they learned. It is important to know that learning and memorization are not the same. Knowledge is not delivered by the teacher or books, but rather is built by the student. Encouraging our children to think more about what they study, make complementary readings or ask about what they do not understand are ways to enhance memory coding as well as access to them.

Maite Balda Aspiazu. Psychologist and Master in Cognitive Neurosciences

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