The first few years of a child’s life are crucial for their cognitive development, also known as the formative years, whereby neural connections are being made and the brain is “wired”. The first 3 years of life have been identified by neuroscientists and developmental psychologists as important for domains such as early language and joint attention. The brain has many functions and interestingly, studies have shown that “attention control” and “working memory” are two faculties that largely develop after birth. The ability to choose the right information to focus on, and thereafter retain it, is important for learning.
If you’re looking at ways to boost your toddler’s memory, here are 10 simple tips to boost your child’s learning capability!
#1 Creating Personal Experiences
There can be 1000 books, cards and videos you buy to help improve your child’s memory, but the single most important factor (that product companies leave out on the packaging!) is you. According to WebMD, experiences that have emotional content and human interaction are what are meaningful to your baby and serve as the glue to help your baby remember.
#2 Reading with Your Child
The emphasis here is reading with your child, referring to an interactive process where your child points to certain objects and you read (or make up!) a few lines about these objects. Learning and memory retention are more effective when your child can interact and discover for himself, rather than being a passive listener.
#3 Safe and Loving Environment
A safe and loving environment helps your baby to develop well, not just her cognitive development but in all areas. It is likely that when your baby feels safe and loved, her body and mind can focus on other developmental areas (rather than survival mode when feeling threatened and scared).
#4 Stimulate Curiosity
When choosing toys for toddlers, choose those appropriate for his age and more importantly, that will stimulate your child’s curiosity. Use toys or objects of different shape, size, color, sound, texture and weight. Being curious leads to a desire to learn more, and such active learning will likely improve memory retention.
#5 Encourage Physical Activity
It has been observed in various studies that higher level of physical activity is linked to larger brain faculties that are tasked with cognitive control and memory. Children who are more fit also do better academically.
#6 Play with Hands
Playing sequential games or games involving the child’s hands can help him to learn and possibly, remember better. Moreover, finger games have the added benefit of improving motor skills.
#7 Use Bite-sized Information
Do not discourage your child by “forcing” him to remember complicated or lengthy information. Instead break information into smaller bits and guide your child to remember smaller groups of information first.
#8 Try Learning with Music
You can learn words in the form of songs, or dance to different words (for instance, a slow slithering move to associate with “snake” or hopping to associate with “frog”). Music is part of multi-sensory learning where involving two or more senses help improve learning and memory.
#9 Make Memory Games Fun
If you want to put your child’s memory to the test, do so in a fun manner. For instance, sort objects in a certain order, mess them up and sort back in the original order. You can also play simple card games like Uno.
Sleep has been found to enhance memory in both adults and children. During sleep, our brain can consolidate what has been learnt into long-term memory. Toddlers need about ten to fourteen hours of sleep.
As mentioned, your stimulation is the most important. Various observations have been made for children who grew up without their family (such as orphans due to war) and the lack of human interaction resulted in “black hole” in the children’s brain as certain brain faculties were not developed. Whichever method you choose to use to help boost your toddler’s memory, always remember to be there for him!