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Memory and Learning

As homeschooling parents we endeavor to choose curriculum that will allow our children to retain as much of the subject matter as possible. We go about choosing our products as best we can. This article will give you some insider information, so that your choices will be better informed and your children will learn more easily and quickly.

Memory and learning go hand in hand. If we understand how memory and our brains are designed , then we can help our children learn and retain more information for longer periods of time. Ideally, we hope the lessons we teach them will stay with them for the rest of their lives. There are three common operations of memory: encoding, storage and retrieval. In exploring how each is done most effectively, we will see how our children can learn the best.

Encoding is ideally accomplished through a multiple of mediums. Using the writing of notes or copy work is an effective way to put things into memory. When we write things down we remember them 80% better. Depending solely on copy work will not guarantee that our children will learn well though.

There is a memory model called Levels of Processing. It sets up that items are remembered better by encoding the information at deep levels. For example, if we ask questions about the information our children are learning they must think and assimilate this information in order to answer the question. This thinking process alone causes our brains to better remember the material.

In progressive order, we encode things in memory via physical, phonological, and semantic methods. The deeper the level of processing encouraged by a question, the higher the level of recall that can be achieved. Physical methods encompass writing or drawing the answer to the question. This can also be accomplished by getting students to fill in a table. Phonological methods use rhyming as a means to put items into long term memory. Phonological memory can also be accomplished by memorizing phonograms or learning how to spell the vocabulary words that go with a topic. Semantic memory represents understanding the meaning or definition of a word.

How an item is stored is heavily dependent on repetition and continued use. It is also dependent on emotion. If a lesson is viewed as fun and exciting the student will have an easier time putting the information in long term memory. Unit studies that facilitate exploring and self-discovery can include all the elements needed for proper encoding.

Retrieval of information is best done via the use of the self-reference effect. This method uses a type of journaling or what Miss Charlotte Mason would have termed Narration. This can be accomplished by writing, drawing, and/or oral discussion. In Great Commission Languages (GCL) products we use all three methods.

Also important is to link previous learning to current topics. For example, GCL products carry stories forward, repeat vocabulary and skills, and build on topics and words. And finally, one vital direction is to enjoy teaching! If we see our teaching as drudgery, then so will our children. If we are excited to learn, then our children will be too.

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