Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Encouraging children to memorize things

Happy 2017 Everyone!!

During the Christmas vacations, I tried something with my sons. It was an experiment to see if they can do rote learning or memorize facts. My sons are of different ages, hence my attempt was very simple and basic.

For my older son (11 years old), I gave him the times tables to memorize daily. 2 tables at a time starting with the 12 times table. Now, for the record, my son is good with maths and we never had an issue. My mission was to get him to say the times tables just the way we did while in school.
For my younger son (5.5 years old) I did not have a math related memory experiment.
What I did with both of them was to learn the Marathi alphabets (barakhadi) and learn to read simple words.

For the younger son, the language part was relatively easier as he was doing Hindi in school. The older one had to learn everything from scratch.

We did the times tables daily for a week; he read them loudly twice and then said them without looking. Once he was confident about them (which was usually the 3rd attempt of saying them without looking) he would write them down. What I noticed was that he enjoyed the memorizing part and felt good about himself when he saw that he could reproduce the tables from memory.
We continued for a week and at the end of that week he was able to recite them.

The language part which the brothers did together, they had a great time. They had fun while learning the various alphabets and would make up their own jokes about them. The interesting part is that they both can talk quite well in Marathi (our mother tongue). This fact helped me in teaching them the alphabets using word associations. We had amazing results with this also. My older son was able to read simple 2 and 3 letter words.

I am no expert in child education or memory building techniques, nor did I refer to any book or online resources to achieve what we achieved. You may have better techniques that have worked for you and your kids; so do feel free to share them with me. What I realized is that the kids are not averse to rote learning; they are just not being trained like that at schools anymore. The emphasis is on logical reasoning and critical thinking. I belong to the generation where rote learning was the way forward if you wanted to succeed at anything. I do see benefits of memorizing; and hence wanted to just try to see if the kids are open to the idea and whether they will see the reward of actually learning something by heart.

After seeing the success of memorizing with the children; I wanted them to take up Countries and Capitals; but we were not able to do that due to last minute travel plans. But I do intend to take this up now while school is still on. If anyone has any ideas or resources to help me with this, do let me know.