Almost everyone can remember a time when watching a tv commercial or listening to a radio jingle and thinking “what were they thinking, this is silly or it just doesn’t make any sense”. But at a later time and much to your surprise, you found yourself humming that silly jingle or repeating the TV slogan automatically, without consciously realizing it.
Actually, the advertising industry really does know what they’re doing and is utilizing a basic principle for memory enhancement. They are masters at making nonsensical associations and pairing other sensory specific detail so you can easily remember their product. Not only do you remember the product but you remember many things they want you to remember or identify with their product vs their competitor.
For example, if I would mention “the little green looking lizard”, you know it’s not really an insurance company but the association is immediate. Moreover, there are many layers that are associated like he’s small, cute, approachable, easy to listen to with that accent and he’s a nice jovial fellow! After a few repetitions of the visual and auditory stimuli, and the overall good feeling the little guy gives off, who wouldn’t want to give them a call and try them out.
Basically, our minds are multi faceted and conduct many functions simultaneously. Also, our brains are capable of storing infinite amounts of info and data. Like in the above example with the gecko, this is easier to accomplish when you give the “thing” you want to remember more sensory specific detail or info that the mind can essentially grab onto. It was also why learning the alphabet was easier as a musical rhyme as a kid.
The beautiful part is that kids can do this instinctively and do so especially when they are at play. It’s how they learn. Kids are creative and use their imaginations in ways that adults have forgotten. They are used to engaging their senses through play and creativity to navigate and make sense of their world.
So as a parent, you can help your child to adapt this instinct while in school or at home doing homework. This will make learning more fun and an opportunity to positively engage with your child.
Step one: have them think about what it represents to them-association
Step two: have them picture or visualize in their mind’s eye-sensory
Step 3: have them note something about it that stands out: detail
Step 4: repeat 3x in a row.
For instance, both my neighbors are teachers and recently told me that their son was having difficulty remembering all the elements of the periodic chart for chemistry class. So, he and his friends came up with a clever way to remember that made sense to them. They came up with a Rap song! It went something like this: My element is “K”, and everywhere you look K is all around you, Yo you got it in potatoes and bananas as potassium you know, so K is potassium as an element don’t ya know! Ok, albeit it sounded much better and cooler when he was singing it! Nonetheless, they made it fun and now remember all the elements. Moreover, the students used an association they identified with-they remembered bananas have potassium in them.
By giving sensory specific and even non-sensical associations and detail to the “thing” they are trying to learn will make remembering easier vs rote memorization which can be boring and tedious. If kids aren’t experiencing success as they learn they’re not going to want to continue.
Giving kids tools to do better, will help them to gain confidence with their abilities, experience success and hopefully be more motivated to learn.