Kids have memories like sieves. You pour information in and it pours right out their ears. There is a way to get kids to retain information. Review memory work like crazy!
Memory work happens to fall into 4 stages rather nicely.
In the first stage, you’re just trying to get the information memorized. You could call this the cramming stage. You know, where you crammed for a test, passed it, and forgot everything the next day. At this stage, you need to review memory work daily.
Review Memory Work Daily
Begin simply with only a couple of pieces to begin memorizing. This may be a piece from Shakespeare and the continents of the world.
If your family enjoys a good morning time routine, add your memory work then. Otherwise, I’ve found the start of the homeschool day or meal times to be the best times for my family.
It’s time to review the pieces.
Reviewing memory work daily is rather simple. Just recite, sing, or copy the material at least three times a day. At this point, your goal is to get the piece memorized.
Once the piece is memorized, you can add another selection to your memory work routine. And don’t worry if the kids don’t master the pieces at the same time. Just keep reviewing the material daily until your children can confidently recite them.
You can imagine how full your memory workday will become if you keep adding pieces to recite daily without removing a few. The kids won’t have any time for math!
Begin reciting the pieces your children have mastered every other day.
Review Memory Work Every Other Day
At this stage of the game, you’re not trying to memorize the pieces because the kids and you should have mastered the material. Essentially you no longer need to recite the piece three times daily.
But we do want to move the piece into long-term memory.
For the next several weeks, review the pieces every other day. My suggestion is to divide the mastered material in half. Review one half on A days and the other half on B days.
This reduces your daily recitation by quite a bit!
Again, once you’re confident the kids aren’t forgetting the piece overnight, begin reciting it weekly.
Weekly Memory Work Review
By this point, the memorization piece should be moving into long-term memory, but we want to be certain it remains there. Review the material weekly.
It’s the same approach as the every other day approach, except you’re only reciting the piece once a week.
The trick is to keep an eye out for any difficulties that may pop up. A child may drop a word, stumble over a line, or totally forget the piece altogether.
That’s okay. Just move the piece back to every-other-day review until it’s mastered. You know how teaching children goes:
two steps forward, one step back
Keep the pieces in weekly review as long as you can. But you’re going to slowly accumulate quite a few mastered pieces for weekly review.
Now it’s time to move the fully mastered material into a monthly review.
Monthly Memory Work Review
There’s nothing magical about the monthly review. Recite the material once a month and call it good. The kids shouldn’t forget lines, drop words, or forget the pieces altogether by this point.
If they do, don’t worry. Just move the piece back to weekly review until it’s mastered and in long-term memory.
The monthly memory review is simply to ensure the memorization work has made it into long-term memory and remains there.
There’s nothing magical about memorizing material with children. It takes repetition, and a lot of repetition, before the kids remember the information and make it theirs.
After all, how much repetition does it take to teach kids to remember their coats on a cold winter day!