Does your child have to memorize facts for a test? Does she study and study and still not retain a word? Or does he refuse to study because it's too hard, too useless, too frustrating? Maybe your child needs a study buddy. Try one of these five helping techniques to take those all-too-slippery facts and figures and keep them firmly in mind.
#1: Flash CardsNever underestimate the power of flash cards. They put facts at your fingertips in a compact format you can take anywhere and use anytime. Having your child write history or science vocabulary words on one side of an index card and the definition on the other gives some nice reinforcement right there. He or she can study the cards while watching TV, listening to music, waiting to be picked up or dropped off, and then you can be the quizmaster to check for maximum memorization. For hard concepts like math facts, set aside five or ten minutes after dinner each evening, set a timer, and do as many flash cards as possible during that time. At first, it will be slow-going, but as your child gets more familiar with the facts you can all be proud of how quickly the answers come.
#2: Tape RecorderChildren who have problems reading may benefit from having stories read aloud to them. And children with auditory processing difficulties may benefit from having the story read to them again and again. How to make that happen on a cramped family schedule? Tape it! Read once, replay often. If it fits your timetable best to read in advance, ask your child's teacher what stories or chapters will be studied, have your child bring the textbook home, and create your own books-on-tape operation. Listening to the tape before sleep or while waking up in the morning may be particularly good strategies for reading retention. And don't reserve this only for language arts offerings. Science and social studies chapters may also be good read-aloud material.
#3: MnemonicsKing Philip Climbs Over Five Giant Stones. That's how I learned the biological classifications of Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species. Maybe you remember learning the color spectrum with Roy G. Biv, or the Great Lakes as HOMES. Mnemonic devices trick the brain into learning something important by distracting it with frivolity. Use your imagination to develop acrostics, rhymes, puns or punch lines that will plant those facts deep. Or pick up some hints from these sites that offer tried-and-true mnemonics:
#4: SongsThere's a reason you remember the lyrics of tunes you heard in high school better than anything you learned in class. Music acts as an adhesive to stick words in your memory. See if you can set something your child needs to learn to a familiar melody, or at least impose some sort of rhythm on it. If it's got a beat and you can dance to it, it'll be easier to remember. For basic facts and concepts, try some of the songs on these sites:
- Songs for Teaching
- Schoolhouse Rock
- Jack Hartmann - Listen and Watch
- Music Activities & Teacher Tips
- Teaching with Songs