I’ll start today’s blog with a quick confession. I love mystery stories and avoid being bookless. Bookless does not mean I haven’t quite a collection, just that I don’t have one to read next. One that I really enjoyed was Memory Book by Howard Engel. A detective suffers a brain injury and significant memory loss. He can remember how to write but not how to read. His effort to regain his memory and the mystery are interwoven. The author Howard Engel did have a stroke that affected his memory and the book reflects some of his own experiences. It is fascinating reading.
The study and investigation of memory are also fascinating topics. Earlier this week I suggested ways to promote auditory (hearing) and visual (seeing) memory. But those are only 2 of the 5 senses. There is another kind of memory called Kinesthetic Memory, which is the recollection of our body in space and responses to movement and reistance. I don’t know if the finger tap game that I used to play with my children is kinesthetic or touch memory but I do know that it worked to keep a child quiet and calm for a few brief minutes when it was important not to talk. Here’s how it works:
Have your child place his/her hand on a flat surface with the palm down. Tap on one or two of the fingers 2, 3 or more times. Then, your child taps on those same fingers on your hand. I know some of this is patterning but I wondered if it also is a touch memory skill. In any case, it seemed to calm the kids and focus their attention. Now, some days the only way I can remember phone numbers or codes is by the particular pattern of touching. Although, one particulary hectic morning I caught myself trying to enter my bank code on the microwave pad. What are your memory tricks?
No, this isn’t the 99th activity for auditory memory enhancement and it’s not a typo. It’s a humorous way to introduce today’s blog topic–how to do a super quick check of your child’s auditory memory. Auditory memory is a fundamental skill for learning. And for relationships. Just think of how frustrating it is when a friend or family member forgets things that you have said or asked, (or on the other hand if they never forget!) So how can you check auditory memory? Tell your child a sequence of any 3 numbers, such as 7 4 8. Ask your child to repeat them. This should be quite easy. Try a sequence of 4 numbers, for instance 5 9 3 6. Continue with a 5 number sequence and then 6. A rule of thumb is children should be able to accurately repeat a sequence of the same number of digits as their age; that is, a 2 year old can do 2 digits, a 3 year old, 3 digits, a 4 year old 4 digits and a 5 year old 5 digits. Some developmental psychologists advise that being able to repeat 6 digits is the minimum level for handling phonics and reading.
I’ll apologize in advance for sounding like a broken record but stories and reading are significant activities for enhancing memory. Kids love to hear favorite stories over and over and can often tell the story of a whole book.
Another way to promote auditory memory skills is by singing. Toddlers remember bits and pieces of songs. Closer to kindergarten age children can sing simple ones. Traditional ones such as Old Macdonald, Bingo, Twinkle, Twinkle, 5 Little Monkeys, Eensy, Weensy Spider, Hokey Pokey, Ten in a Bed, etc. seem to be universal but there are great new songs, too.
What songs do your kids enjoy?
Auditory memory involves more than just remembering. It’s a link in chain that includes listening to words or other sounds, processing what it means, storing it and then finding it in the memory banks when needed. Auditory skills aren’t just important for learning to read, they are critical for all learning. To help your child develop auditory memory here’s some quick, and Fun! activities:
- Echo–Pretend you are an echo and ask your child to say something. Then, you repeat what your child said. Now, you say something and have your child be the echo. “The cheese walked to the store”, doesn’t make sense but creates giggles. “The book made breakfast for the shoes”, is a longer sentence so more difficult to remember. This game can use short sentences for younger children and longer ones for older kids.
- Instead of using words, try some clapping. For instance, one clap followed by two fast ones is fairly simple. This gets more challenging depending on the number of claps and the timing.
- Another variation is simple sounds. A clap, a hum, and a Hurrah is an example of a sound sentence. Again, the number of sounds can be adapted for your child’s age and ability.
(Kids sometimes play another variation of an echo game called copycat where they repeat everything said by a brother or sister. I loved the tv commercial where a younger brother was driving his older sister crazy. He soon stopped, tho, when she said “My sister is smart and beautiful.” If you really need your kids to do something, you can play the game awhile until their attention wanders. Slip in the “I’m going to fold the laundry before playing” and when they echo just smile and say Thanks. It gets their attention but only works once or twice!)
If you notice that your child is having some real challenges in this area I’ve recently become aware of a book called Learning Disabilities, There is a Cure by Addie Cusimano. I’ve added it to my list for summer reading. Is anyone familiar with this book and can recommend it?