Kids are sponges! The growing brain of a child literally mops up information.

The learning that occurs in early childhood is tremendous. Our work as parents and teachers is to stimulate and feed that growing brain. Understanding how we learn will empower us to pass on our wealth of knowledge to the little ones.

You can improve a child’s learning by focusing on improving their recall abilities. Recall is the ability to bring back information from memory. To recall is to recollect. It tells you the information made it through and then got imprinted on the brain. When seniors start losing their “marbles”, recall of recent information is usually impacted first. A child’s ability to recall information also helps a teacher or parent determine mastery of a concept. Recall can be broken down into three categories; immediate recall, short term memory and long term memory.

Immediate recall

This is the ability to say back the requested information immediately after it has been relayed. You can reinforce immediate recall by having a child repeat the information you just passed across to them. If a child is unable to do this, it could signify lack of understanding. You might have used words that they could not understand. Poor immediate recall skills could also signify amnesia which is rare in childhood.

Playing “today I went to the store” is a good way to help your child develop their immediate recall. This game is fun to play with 3 or more players, but you can play with two. The first person says, “Today I went to the store and I bought a car” (it can be anything – food, a toy etc). The next person: “Today I went to the store and bought a car and an umbrella”. The third person: “Today I went to the store and bought a car, an umbrella and a …” and so on it goes back to the first person. As children get more confident you can add adjectives – e.g. a purple car, a spotty umbrella, a tiny kitten etc.

Short Term Memory

Short term memory signifies a good level of comprehension of the information. Deficits in short term memory in a child who did well with immediate recall is often due to lack of attention as a lack of attention would prevent the brain from imprinting the information.

A kindergartener should be able to recall information given to them within a ten minute window, maybe not verbatim but at least in concept. Card games such as “memory” or “pairs” are good for helping your kindergartner develop his or her short term memory.

Long Term Memory

We’ve all heard it, “once you know how to ride a bicycle, it stays with you”. This is thanks to long term memory. The information has been archived in the brain and can be pulled up on demand. Long term memory signifies complete mastery of a concept. Getting a concept archived in a child’s brain is the learning destination. For young children mastery of a concept is achieved mainly through play. Play gives children a hands on opportunity to practice and try out ideas and concepts in different ways until they are able to achieve a deep understanding.

Bola Ajumobi – (@slimybookworm on twitter) is a mom of 2 boys under 5 and wife to another under 40. She is a literacy advocate and owns an online kids bookstore, where you will find an array of Picture books for kids but somehow still finds time to function as family physician some of the time.