Did you know that the human brain’s ability to store information is virtually limitless? Our brains can never fill up with too much information. However, when it comes to remembering what we have stored, we sometimes run into a problem.
A Japanese study found that 1 out of 10 young adults (aged 20-35) had serious difficulty remembering information provided. Many believe that this is directly linked to dependency on electronic devices like computers and mobile phones that require less use of the human brain.
It’s never too early to start working on your child’s memory. There are many games for all ages that aid in improving memory without technology.
Memory (age 4-5)
A variety of games can be purchased or even made using index cards; asking players to create some kind of match. The matches can be two identical images, a mother and baby animal, or an object and it’s setting; like a book and a library. This helps children visualise and remember which object is where.
Shuffle the cards, and place them face down in three rows. Placing cards in more than three rows can be challenging for children of this age. Take turns flipping two cards over. If they match, you remove them from the game. Leave unpaired cards in their place, remembering what was where for future matches. Children are often far much better at this game than adults!
Now you see it, now you don’t (age 6-7)
This is a fun game to play with your household items. Place 15-25 items on your table. Give your child one minute to study all of the items. Tell your child to close their eyes, still trying to visualise which items are where. Remove one item from the table. Instruct your child to open their eyes and see if they can tell you which item is missing.
Eventually, feel free to add or remove more items. This will build your child’s visualisation techniques and improve their short-term memory.
I’m going on a picnic (age 8-9)
This activity only requires your child’s brain! Say the phrase, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring some _______.”
Since you said the statement first, you need to name some kind of item that begins with the letterA. Next, your child repeats the same beginning phrase, your selection, and then they have to add the word “and” and tell you what they would bring that starts with the letter B. Repeat this process, going through the entire alphabet.
“I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring some apples, bananas, carrots, donuts, and eggs.”
You can play this activity at home, on a walk, in the car, or even waiting for dinner at a restaurant. Feel free to switch up the subject with a zoo, beach or park theme for example.
If they cannot remember the items, if they say them in the wrong order, or if they start with the incorrect upcoming letter of the alphabet, the game is over!
How many? (age 10-12)
This is a memory game that involves studying arrays and recalling the total displayed. On large index cards, create a variety of arrays. You can have dots in a row, three groups of five dots, two groups of eight dots, four groups of four dots and so on.
Holding up one index card at a time, show the array to your child, count to five, and then put the card down. Ask your child how many dots in total are on the card. Children at this age will quickly understand that they do not have enough time to individually count each dot. They will put their strategising, visualising, and short term memory to use in order to calculate a total for each card. Once five seconds becomes too easy, reduce the time by a second each time.
These activities are a fun way to get back to basics and exercise the brain, building a strong memory for your child.