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Maximize Effectiveness of Study Time with Memory Training & Tricks, Part 1

Posted on 11/12/2016

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Why is it that one kid can effectively study for a test in only an hour and get an “A,” while another kid in the same class can spend a few entire evenings studying and still scrape by with a “C-“? While there are several variables that come into play, like how the child’s learning style coincides with classroom presentation and a child’s natural interest level and ability to remember facts, there are some ways any person can train his or her mind to remember, well, pretty much anything! In Part 1 here, we’ll focus on general memory training; in Part 2, we’ll look at specific memory tricks.

Memory Training

If you think your child simply isn’t gifted with a “good memory,” think again: “Most people talk about memory as if it were a thing they have, like bad eyes or a good head of hair. But your memory doesn’t exist in the way a part of your body exists — it’s not a ‘thing’ you can touch. It’s a concept that refers to the process of remembering.” That kind of misperception keeps many students from reaching their full potential. The memory is like a muscle: It’s something that can be trained and improved.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

The brain is an amazing organ, and even today’s top scientists don’t completely understand how it processes information or resurfaces memories. What we do know, though, is that the long-term memory relies heavily on repetition: “As you learn and practice new information, intricate circuits of knowledge and memory are built in the brain.” While some people might be blessed with what we call a “photographic memory,” that is not the norm; cramming before a test is only so effective, because it simply places the information into the short-term memory, which has an extremely limited capacity: typically, it can hold about seven pieces of information for about a half hour.

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Multi-Sensory Involvement

While sensory input simply places information into the short-term memory, most experts believe that the long-term memory feeds off the short-term memory; in other words, we need to get something into our short-term memory before it can possibly become part of our long-term memory. Depending on a child’s primary learning style — visual, auditory, or kinesthetic — some types of presentation or exposure may be more significant than others. But regardless of the person, the more types of exposure, the better: If you read, write, listen to, and say the same thing out loud, you’ll be more likely to remember it than if you just do one of those things.

Part of the reason that using more than one sense to absorb information is so helpful in establishing memory is that it helps us wholeheartedly focus on that one thing. When we’re multi-tasking or distracted, our brains can only focus on so much at a time, so if we’re listening to music while reading, we probably won’t absorb what we’re reading quite as well, no less be able to remember it later.

Continue with Part 2.

Read the Entire Series:

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