Like every other muscle in the human body, the brain needs regular exercise. While sharpening the memory is a complex process that requires practice, attention, a willingness to isolate from distractions, and drastically altering normal study routines, there are numerous strategies that can help maximize memory skills.
To improve memory, enhance the ability to recall information, and increase the retention of information, try the following 7 exercises.
- Organize, organize, organize. No studying techniques will truly be effective unless students are organized. Take the time to organize study space, notes, and even to organize ideas in your mind. Research has been done that illustrates that the mind organizes and remembers information in clusters. Group similar concepts and terms together, rather than trying to learn everything at once.
- Make information familiar. When a student is learning something new, he/she should try to connect the information to something familiar. Associating historical events with a familiar picture at home will help students to visualize an event. Substitute the lyrics of a favorite song with a sequence of events in a book. Establishing connections between new information and existing memories, students can increase the likelihood that they will be able to readily recall the new information. Students can also use mnemonic devices to associate new information with familiar memories or common items. Using a song, a positive image, a joke, or even a basic household item, students can make a new concept easy to recollect and familiar.
- Read aloud. Reading information out loud requires attention and focus. It makes students consider what they are saying and take note regarding whether it makes sense or not. Many teachers suggest that students work with their peers, re-teaching classroom concepts to each other to ensure that students have a strong understanding of concepts and are able to readily recall what they’ve learned.
- Exercise. Physical activity can clear the mind, making students more available to new information. If students want to enhance their memory muscles, they must also focus on their physical fitness. Before students start studying for a big test, they should try taking a walk outside, going to the gym, taking an aerobics class, or shooting hoops. Some researchers suggest that not only does exercise enhance memory skills, it stimulates brain activity.
- Play word and number-oriented games. Doing puzzles, playing Words with Friends, playing Soduku, concentration, or chess can help students enhance their ability to focus and increase their brains’ stamina. The point of playing these games is to exercise the brain’s muscle. Playing these games should take students out of their comfort zones, exposing them to new challenges and forcing them to use their brains to figure out something new. This skill will hopefully translate in the classroom, as students become more adept at learning new concepts and memorizing new information.
- Write everything down by hand. Before students start trying to memorize content and concepts, they should write – or re-write – everything they learned. Do not type or re-type, as typing is a less mindful activity and requires less concentration than writing. Taking the time to write everything down by hand increases the level of concentration and attention to details. The process of writing, copying information by hand from a book, computer, or notebook, into another notebook or onto flashcards immediately enhances students’ ability to recall information.
- Visualization. While this might be a more difficult exercise for some students, focusing on photographs, charts, and graphics related to the concepts that students are attempting to memorize can be quite helpful. Draw out information if it doesn’t already exist. This will help you to memorize information based on the way each student understands these concepts. Students should use highlighters or colorful pens to group related concepts together, so that they associate certain information with a pen or highlighter color.
Strengthening that memory muscle will take time, and the process is not one size fits all for any student. But dedicating time and energy to strengthen the memory muscle can be life-changing and change the course of students’ academic life and long-term success.
If your student needs help figuring out how to strengthen his/her ability to memorize, contact GAMECHANGER to work with a study skills specialist.