Teaching Children to Memorize

Father and child memorizing
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I can still remember now some 45 years later, the efforts of my parents at getting me to memorize what we called “times tables.” We used tools, songs and other methods to help me learn multiplication tables. “One times two is two. Two times two is four. Three times two is six.” And on and on we went for hours until I had them down. And to this day, when I am stuck on a real life math problem, I find myself reciting the “times tables” to help me remember.

Years later when I was serving as a volunteer on a church mission, I had the daunting task of memorizing "discussions" verbatim that could be used to teach religious principles to those hoping to learn. It was among the most difficult things I have ever done, but the lessons I learned as a child helped me tackle it successfully.  

With our kids, we used some more modern techniques like learning wrap-ups to help with memorizing times tables. And today, lots of parents are using apps like Splash Math and Math Board to help with the times tables. Just a quick Internet search can reveal a wide variety of tools to help our kids develop the skill of memorizing.  

Different children learn in different ways. Some are more visual learners and remember facts when they see them. Other learn more experientially, so tools like rhyming or songs help them. Still, others are tactile learners, so memorizing tools where they touch and feel things will help them with memorization.

 Whatever tools we use should be specific to ours.  

Memorizing, while sometimes a challenge to both children and adults, is a necessary skill to enhance learning and retention. From poetry to multiplication tables, children who can memorize are miles ahead of those that never learn how. So how do fathers help their children learn to memorize?

Try the Old Flash Card Standby

Flash cards have long been a staple of memorizing tools. With a math problem on one side and the correct answer on the other, the cards can be used by parents, tutors or others to help children memorize. Sit down across from your child and then showing him or her the problem side, you can listen for the right answer. Give encouragement and maybe a little treat for every right answer or after five right answers. Immediate rewards can really help encourage learning.

Link the Memorizing to a Song or Rhyme

When my children were learning the names of the states in alphabetical order in about the fourth grade, they had the state names set to a catchy tune and then they learned the song at school. When they came home after only a few days of practice, they could sing it all the way through without help. Creating some memorizing projects to a familiar tune can really help them learn quickly and retain the information.

Look for Other Hints and Mnemonics

My grandmother was a great one for learning by using memory tricks or mnemonics. For example, she taught me to spell the word “Mississippi” with this little trick from her young years in Oklahoma. “That word is spelled M -I - crooked letter - crooked letter- I -crooked letter - crooked letter- I - humped back - humped back – I.” I have never forgotten how to spell it.

We have tried to use the same techniques when our children had to learn to spell a hard word or learn a list of things, finding of developing clever pictures or scenarios to help them remember.

Try Using Mind Maps

Making a colorful mind map diagram and then putting answers to key questions on the map can help put concepts in context and spur the memory.

Memorizing can seem a little tedious, but a little creativity goes a long way toward making it fun and rewarding. These tips will help you help your child learn to memorize effectively, a skill which will serve them all of their lives.