How to improve memory and understanding skills in children

When I am working with children on improving memory and understanding skills….it is most important that they understand that they have to “listen so that they understand and remember.”  Children will often hear what you are saying….however….do not remember the details to what you said. 

When I working on memory and understanding I like to start off the session with activities I call: “Jump Start” questions.  These are simple memory exercises….that should be easy for your little one to answer.  When I work with Lauren….a young girl I have been seeing for services since 2008 (working on cognitive rehabilitation)….we start off the session with the “Jump Start” questions.  You will see below what they look like.  Initially, Lauren could not answer the simple questions…and she also had the most difficulty in answering the questions in a full sentence.  Okay…so read below what my “Jump Start” questions are like:

Therapist:

What is your name?

Child:

My name is Lauren.

Therapist:

What is your dad’s name:

Child:

My dad’s name is Mike.

Therapist:

What is your brother’s name?

Child:

My brother’s name is Eric.

Initially….just formulating the sentences was difficult for Lauren….also due to word retrieval issues.  However, after repeatedly answering these questions….Lauren was able to answer them fluently. 

Next I made the “Jump Start” questions more challenging….by telling Lauren that she needed to answer the question and then add detail to the answer.  Giving me one fact about herself…her mom or dad or brother….so she may have answered the question like this:

“My name is Lauren and I love macaroni and cheese.”

Next….to address her memory skills….I would give her information about myself and see if she could recall the details…..so my statements would sound like this:

I would be sure to state the following first:

“Listen so that you understand and remember.”

“My birthday is in March and my favorite color is green.”

Next, Lauren would be asked:

Therapist:

When is my birthday?

Lauren:

Your birthday is in March.

Therapist:

What is my favorite color?

Lauren:

Your favorite color is green.

 

Now, most important!!

I would write the “Jump Start” questions down….and every session I would ask her the same “Jump Start” questions….and add a new one.  Eventually…the answers were transferred from her short-term memory to her long-term memory.  Most importantly, though, she learned how to listen so she understands and remembers. 

 

I use the next activity (THREE PARTS TO SMARTS) to continue to work on memory and understanding skills…..and teaching the child to “listen so they understand and remember.”  

“THREE PARTS TO SMARTS”

Be sure to start off the activity with….”I want you to try to listen so that you understand and remember.”

 

Therapist:

“I am going to tell you a story.  There will be three details in the story.  Listen so you understand and remember.  Then you will answer questions about the story in a full sentence.”

 

“Anne went to Stop and Shop to get bananas.”

Therapist:

Who went to Stop and Shop?

Child:

Anne went to Stop and Shop.

Therapist:

Where did Anne go?

Child:

Anne went to Stop and Shop.

Therapist:

What did Anne get at Stop and Shop?

Child:

Anne got bananas.

 

As simple as this three-part story may seem….children that have difficulty with memory and understanding may struggle to answer the questions, to recall the details, and to formulate a full sentence when answering.  Repetition of activities like this will help your little one’s memory and understanding skills.

As she improves her ability to complete these activities…make the stories longer…add more details…..and make the stories more challenging:

 

 

 

“On Saturday it was raining so Anne and I could not go to the park.  Instead we went bowling and then went out to the Diner for lunch.  I had macaroni and cheese and Anne a cheeseburger.  We had fun.  Hopefully, on Tuesday we can go to the park.”

Again see if your little one can answer questions about the story above….there is more detail…it will be more challenging…..and you may have to use the strategies filed under the word finding help  page to help you help your little one.

And be sure to go to the word finding help page for more information on how to help your little one or big one with word retrieval concerns. 

More information is also available on the teach me to understand page…..this page will help you to help your little one in answering questions and understanding verbal directions.

Have fun!

Kim

 

About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional resource....so that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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