Did you know that you can help your kids improve their ability to remember? Memory is a brain function that gets stronger with practice. The more we exercise memory, the stronger it becomes. So, when you give your kids practice at remembering, you improve their ability to integrate both implicit and explicit memories.
It’s easy to give them practice. Just have them tell and retell their own stories and talk with them about their experiences. Talk about significant events, such as family experiences, friendships, and ceremonies. When you do, those influential experiences will be remembered more clearly.
You can also ask questions that lead your child to recall an experience. Even recounting basic facts with young children can be helpful. “Did you go to Grandma’s house today? What did Gram have for you at the door?” Reviewing just the basics still helps develop your child’s memory, and it is preparing a young child to engage in more significant memories later on.
As kids get older, you can ask about specific events or situations. For example, how was the birthday party they attended? Or what happened at the school play rehearsal last night? You can even be playful and creative. You might say, “What was the high point and the low point for you today?” Or “Tell me two things that happened to you today and one thing that happened to a friend.” Or “Tell me one thing that really happened today and one thing that didn’t.”
You can also encourage your children to keep a journal. Journaling gives kids a chance to tell their story and to do so with some thought. The process of writing in a journal helps kids make meaning out of and understand their past and present experiences. In addition, expressing an event through journaling has been shown to improve immune function.
When you ask questions and encourage your children to remember, you are helping their memory get a workout. In the process you are helping them to recall important events from the past that will be helpful to their understanding of what is happening to them in the present.