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Memory, the cement of learning...

BRAIN-BASED learning is the informed process of using a group of practical strategies based on sound principles derived from brain research. It aims to help children learn according to how the brain learns best naturally.

It is a borderless approach to learning, crossing and drawing upon multiple disciplines such as chemistry, neurology, psychology, sociology, genetics, physiology and nutrition. This holistic and multidisciplinary approach increases the learning potential of every child.

Memory formation is the cement of learning. You may have noticed that sometimes your child is able to recall information accurately and easily but at other times with great difficulty.

What determines how well your child stores and retrieves information? How can you help improve memory power?

Experts believe that there are five memory lanes and recall depends on how we access the lanes, much like locating an item in a supermarket. We must search using the correct lane. The five memory lanes are:

  1. Semantic memory

  2. Episodic memory

  3. Procedural memory

  4. Emotional memory

  5. Automatic memory 


Creative expression takes many forms and one of the most delightful ones must surely be through pottery

Kid potter hand made painted, glazed and fired ceramic figurine.

Index - Nurturing the thinking child
Your Kids can, if you let them think they can!
The road to change
Echo of Life
Touched by an Angel
Dad, I'm thinking of something
The touch of the master's hands
Give your child the reason to say; Why not?
Peer Pressure by Dr Teoh Hsien-jin
Memory, the cement of learning
A guide to brain-based learning
Exercise, movement and learning
The Defiant child by Dr Teoh Hsien-jin
Stress and Motivation in Learning
Developing Through Play

1. Semantic memory

To enhance Semantic memory, have children study together. This will allow the use of strategies, like role-playing. Act out the subject such as history or play shopkeeper where the children need to weigh items, count money and do fractions.

Semantic memory
holds information learned from words. When your child reads books or listens to stories, she is storing it in her semantic memory. 

Most schoolwork
is taught semantically. Unfortunately, if semantic information is not processed in several ways, the brain does not make strong neural connections, explaining why many children do not retain what is taught in classrooms. Here are some strategies you can use to help improve semantic memory.

  • Take turns being teacher.

  • Get your child to test you on the subject.

  • If your child is old enough, get her to summarise the topic.

Act out the subject such as history or play shopkeeper where the children need to weigh items, count money and do fractions.

Use mnemonics such as acronyms. For example, My Very Easy Method Just Set Up Nine Planets, for naming the nine planets in our solar system. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Have friends study or play together. This will allow the use of strategies, like role-playing.

Create a learning
environment where your child can feel emotions while learning. Emotions such as happiness, excitement, suspense, surprise and humour are very positive and effective in learning.

Draw a power picture or mind map. This technique takes concepts and stores them in the best memory lane for access later.

2. Episodic memory. Episodic memory is driven by location. If your child learns new information at a certain location, the likelihood is she will be able to remember the information better as she will be able to access this memory lane if she recalls the location where the information was learnt.

Here are some simple things you can do:

Study with your child in different places such as the kitchen, garden, pool side, library or a friendís house.

Wear clothes relevant to the topic, for example, attempt to dress up as a king or queen when learning about the history of monarchy.

Make posters about the subject and hang it around the house.

Use different coloured paper for different subject.

3. Procedural memory. Procedural memory is known as muscle memory. This memory lane is stored in the cerebellum and accessed when learning is accompanied with movement or exercise. A good example is the ability to ride a bicycle or drive a car. Anything that involves movement will enhance procedural memory.

  The brain likes novelty, so make learning a unique experience by changing the environment. This way, you will be harnessing the power of episodic memory to enhance your childís learning. 
Try these techniques when your child is learning:

Play games like Simon Says in a different language to enhance learning of that language.

Teach your child phonics with stretching and bending exercises.

Singing and dancing or clapping while learning to spell.

Write letters or do math's by drawing with a stick on sand or using washable sidewalk chalk.

4. Emotional memory. Emotional memory is the strongest of all memories. Neurotransmitters are released when there is emotional response to information learnt, thereby biologically marking the event as significant. Consider how well you can recall the details of a story that evoked intense emotions when you read it. 

5. Automatic memory. Automatic memory is sometimes known as conditioned response memory. Memories are triggered by associations. For example, sets of words like Green Go, Red stop, up down. 

Strategies for accessing this memory lane can be fun. Make up lyrics to a familiar tune with words that your child needs to remember. Use oral conditioning such as you say 31st August -- your child answers Hari Kebangsaan. 

REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Another important factor that helps maximise your childís memory power is getting adequate REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

REM sleep is also known as dream time or active sleep. This is when the brain does housekeeping by incorporating recent learning and experiences into long term memory.

Inadequate REM sleep will lower performance in creative and high-level problem solving skills. Burning the midnight oil is probably not the wisest move before a big test.

Good sleep habits can be learnt and nurtured, and the earlier the better for indeed, sleep is a window for physical growth and brain development.

Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics Guide To Your Childís Sleep Birth Through Adolescent Villard Books, USA 1999; pp 12,13,23. Sunday April 9, 2006 Star. Advertorial is courtesy of Dumex (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd 1 Jalan 205, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Experts strongly
recommend using music to evoke emotions while learning.

Your enthusiasm for the subject is important as it is contagious.

Student Potter hand build, painted,
glazed and fired ceramic coin box.


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