Children are continuously processing and learning new information, much of which is stored as working memory. Working memory lets us keep small amounts of information in our minds for just long enough to help us complete cognitive tasks, so it has great implications for children’s development and education.
As adults, we often try to remember things in the short term by repeating them over and over out loud. But there’s actually a more effective way called elaborative rehearsal. You can introduce your learner to this practice using a simple to-do list.
1. Go over the items on your list. You might start with a list of things you need to buy at the grocery store.
2. Work with your child to create a story involving the items on your list. Maybe a fruit-eating monster wants to steal your kiwis and bananas, and the only way to stop him is to wrap him in tin foil and squirt toothpaste in his eyes!
3. Re-tell the story as you’re grabbing items in the store to help your child recall everything on the list: “…So the monster was just about to gobble up the kiwi when we realized how we could capture him. What did we use to hold him captive?”
The two of you should feel free to make the story your own and really have fun with it! Research shows that this kind of elaboration, which your child can apply to all kinds of contexts (academic and otherwise), helps young learners keep information in mind for longer periods of time.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this activity, as well as suggestions on future topics to cover! Please leave a comment.