When exams are round the corner, every household is under performance pressure. Burning the mid night oil, the child along with parents have a tough time. I faced this recently in the month of December when my older one was writing exams for the first time in grade 6. He was finding it difficult to memorize topics.
Children today are not book material. Thanks to internet of things the information available is mammoth. Today I don’t expect my children to mug up things and repeat like parrots instead I want them to understand comprehend and discuss the subject. But I do not deny the fact that they need to memorize dates, names and other details required for academic interest. This is not interesting to the child. There is no practical explanation to subjects like history and geography.
I did face this challenge which led me to uncover ways to make ant topic convenient to memorize so that learning becomes fun again. So how did I achieve this?
- Before we(my child and me) even begin to study , it was very important for me to make sure that the child is well fed, well slept and mentally relaxed: I know how cranky I become when I am deprived of any of these. Children face the same. Allowing them to sip water in between and take necessary toilet breaks is also very important. I know of mothers who complain of potty times or hunger pangs when they ask the child to study and as a result they never study. Explain the child the value of time and make sure all this is sorted in advance.
- A casual introduction over a walk or at the park or in the car: We started to discuss spellings and topics on long commutes encouraging him to think and comprehend his read.Because this approach is informal and away from desk, he found it interesting too. An open discussion always generates curiosity around the topic and builds interest.
- Combine verbal material with visuals : For topics like the Egyptian Civilization or Panchayati Raj system of India, we did see some videos on you tube to break the stereotype. Looking at things helped him visualize the content and helped in understanding the topic.
- Encourage to make a mind map/ info graphic to make notes: Write what you learn is THE way to improve memorizing skills. To make this interesting he made mind maps and drew pictures which connected with his study. This by far was the most successful idea which worked well with him. What is a mind mapping? Mind mapping is a strategy that helps students study and professors teach course material. A mind map is a diagram that is used to visually outline information. One of the most common types of mind map is a large brainstorming web where a central word or idea branches out into related subjects. As ideas are fleshed out and connect to one another, you can see how concepts tie together to get a better understanding of what you are trying to study. By using words, pictures, and diagrams, you are able to organize your thoughts in a way that helps you follow your train of thought when you come back to study further. Using a combination of words and pictures while studying is six times more advantageous for remembering information than words alone. Mind maps differ from other forms of outlines by removing their linear nature and instead positioning information in a way that is more natural for the brain to process and retain. There are various online platforms like coggle which work on this concept and makes learning easier.
- Connect your study with real life examples and ideas: This was our next step. To identify ,link and connect with real life examples like the barter system, or of great baths. He could relate to the architecture of the various civilizations with modern architecture. This reminds us of the step wells in Rajasthan, the forts and the importance of Jantar Mantar in ancient days.
- Break down the topic and take breaks allowing the child to comprehend.” Chunking” : This allows the child to break the topic into chunks for better comprehending. Making comparison tables, diagrams and flow charts enables the child to put the read into paper for better understanding .Chunking refers to an approach for making more efficient use of short-term memory by grouping information. Chunking breaks up long strings of information into units or chunks. The resulting chunks are easier to commit to memory than a longer uninterrupted string of information.
- Spaced practice vs cramming : This a fantastic video on this and I insist you watch this now to understand its essence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPxSzxylRCI We watched this video together and I am very happy to share that it actually did wonders to him. It helped him to organize his thoughts , time and space for productive study.
- Share what you learn : Disusing the topic with peers or a problem solving exercise helped him to build confidence in the subject. This is a very healthy form of learning. Share and learn. He would call his friends or chat over a topic clearing doubts.
- Mnemonic: A mnemonic is a tool that helps us remember certain facts or large amounts of information. They can come in the form of a song, rhyme, acronym, image, phrase, or sentence. Mnemonics help us remember facts and are particularly useful when the order of things is important. For example , in order to memorize the order of planets in the solar system you may say “ My very excited mother just served us nine pies” and now that Pluto is removed from planet status you may say ” My very educated mother just served us noodles.”
- Mindfulness, mediation and exercise help to sharpen the brain for memory skill development. Reading everyday, making study time a routine aid in fruitful study time. Try avoiding any distractions during learning time and most importantly avoid perfection. In order to be perfect children sometimes lose the essence of studying. Develop self-control, i.e., teaching kids to do what is appropriate rather than what they want to do.Develop the working memory, i.e., enabling children to hold information in memory while mentally incorporating new information. Develop cognitive flexibility, i.e., teach kids to think outside the box are some tools for positive learning.
These simple yet effective strategies helped Sparsh study productively. I am sure you can make use of these strategies and help your child in memorizing things better. Do let me know if you have followed anything otherwise and if that has worked effectively with you and your child. I will be happy to learn and incorporate.
Until then, happiness and sunshine ans welcome to 2020. May this year be flourishing and nourishing to you and your family. Happy New Year!