Once kids reach elementary school age, the ability to process and retain information becomes an important skill. Your child’s school day is full of math fact tables, spelling words, science and social studies facts and grammar rules. Here are some techniques to help your child absorb all the information and recall it when needed.
Put the information in context and explain why it is important. This helps your child create a ‘mind map’ of related facts. For example, explain how the vocabulary words for social studies help describe a point in history or location and discuss the interesting facts about it with your child. Having a deeper understanding of a topic and of the ideas around the topic can improve how well the information is committed to memory.
Break large spelling and vocabulary words or math facts down into smaller pieces. Sound out and spell long words a few syllables at a time. If your child has to learn the whole ‘9s’ multiplication table, for example, focus on a few facts from the table each day.
Use a multi-sensory approach. Don’t just have your child read the information. Quiz him and ask him to recite it back to you. If he is preparing for a book test or an essay test, ask him practice essay questions and have him answer in his own words what he has learned about the topic. Use visual aids, like flash cards that include pictures along with the associated words or math facts. Help your child make up a song he can use to remember the information he is studying.
Use mnemonics to help your child recall facts in the right order. There are some you are probably already familiar with, like the acrostic ‘Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally’ (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract). It can be fun to help your child make up his own acrostic or acronym to remember the order of words or to even memorize the order of letters in a word that is difficult to spell.