“I don’t know.” “I forgot.” “I don’t remember.” As a caregiver, you likely hear these phrases on occasion. It isn’t only children who forget, but because of the important brain development that happens in our early years, children are often more forgetful. Even if you understand the science behind it, it can be frustrating to deal with a child’s forgetfulness. Besides time and patience, there are ways you can increase your child’s working memory, which helps with learning and following directions. When you help children remember important tasks and ideas in their early years, you create positive habits and patterns for the rest of their lives.
One simple way to increase working memory is creating predictable routines for regular parts of your day. This may include mornings, mealtimes, returning home, and bedtime. Establish your expectations for tasks to be completed, and try to do them in the same order each day. You may find it helpful to create rhymes, chants, or songs to remind your child of your routine. Repetition is an excellent memory tool and will help your child develop working memory in his or her daily life.
Play Matching or Memory Games
Games that require your child to remember or match similar things build up the part of the brain that controls working memory. Play these games to help children remember simple information in a fun format. One example is the game Memory, which requires players to memorize the location of cards they have seen only briefly. But if memorization games frustrate your child, there are other games that require similar skills with less pressure. For instance, hidden picture puzzles, color matching, and silly songs with lyrics that build (like “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly”) all encourage working memory.
Use Visual Reminders
For small children, there are few tools more effective than visual reminders. If you are tired of repeating a verbal checklist, make a visual one instead! This not only allows you to stop nagging, but it also grants your child the responsibility for his or her own success. If your child is ready to leave for the day, ask him to go back and double check his visual schedule. This is a simple way for him to remind himself of anything he may have missed and rectify it without your involvement. It is key to keep visual reminders simple and clear, so try to limit your charts to 4-5 tasks with a simple picture clue.
Turn Remembering into a Game
When parents feel frustration about a child’s limitation, games are a great way to ease that tension. Instead of saying, “How many times do I have to tell you to get your shoes on?” try “I wonder which one of us can get our shoes on the fastest!” Alternatively, establish fun rewards and celebrations to help children remember, including visual reminders along the way. Perhaps five days of remembering to put dishes in the sink leads to a special dessert! Or putting all dirty clothes in the hamper for a week earns everyone a movie night.
Connect Important Memories to Movement
Multi-sensory activities increase the brain’s ability to remember important information. If you can include your child’s other senses, such as touch and sight, your words are easier to remember. For example, try discussing your daily routine while tossing a ball back and forth. Take turns saying an important task and passing the ball. Or share the same information while doing jumping jacks together. Creating hand signals for important tasks may jog your child’s memory in rushed moments, especially if he is the one to create them. Ask your child to pick a simple gesture to represent each part of his routine and use those to remind him what comes next.
It isn’t unusual for children to forget important information. At the same time, parents want to rely on their child to take age-appropriate responsibility for their own belongings and routine. By following these suggestions, you will increase your child’s working memory and expand her ability to succeed. At the same time, you have new tools to help your family and ease your own frustration. Are you looking for childcare in a place that emphasizes personal responsibility and sets your child up for success? Look no further than Legacy Academy Greenville. Call or visit today for more information.