Simple but Powerful Brain Games to Increase Information Retrieval and Memory
Every day, you access memory and retrieval for a variety of tasks. Without even thinking about it, you carry on conversations, answer questions, and drive to the grocery store while contemplating what you need to buy for the week’s meals. You complete simple computations for time or money calculations daily as well. We do these tasks with a high level of automaticity (speed of processing), because we engage the same skills for the same routines daily.
But what about when the name of an acquaintance, an actor, or a movie title is on the tip of your tongue? Or what about times when your visual memory serves you, and you can visualize a store or another place but can’t retrieve the name from your memory while you’re trying to tell someone about it? Then at 3 am, you wake up, and it comes to mind. If you’ve ever experienced any of these situations, you were struggling with information retrieval.
How Retrieval and Memory Affect Your Child’s Learning
Information retrieval and memory are underpinning neurological skills that help us accomplish various learning and daily tasks. While most people understand the importance of memory, many may not understand retrieval. It is the ability to fluidly recall and draw information from our stored banks of knowledge for application in tasks, in writing, or in conversation. According to the APA (American Psychological Association), practicing retrieval is a powerful way to improve memory functions and learning capacities.
These skills will be more difficult the more novel the information to be retrieved is and the less the mind “exercises” retrieval. For example, when a child is called on to answer a question about a new science or math lesson or must organize and construct a written response yet lacks mastery of writing skills, information retrieval will be less fluid. As a result, a student may experience a great deal of frustration or embarrassment and lose the motivation to learn, hence not engaging in very tasks like reading and other activities that help the brain work out its retrieval muscles.
What You Can Do to Help Your Child
At Best In Class Education Centers, we want to share with parents that there’s good news! You can help your child activate the cognitive skills of retrieval and memory with simple activities. You probably already have these powerful brain boosters at home, so that’s even better news.
Cards, Dice Games, and Dominoes Check your game closet. If you have a card deck, dice, and dominoes, you have some great brain activities right at your fingertips. Uno, dice, solitaire, dominoes, and Yahtzee require activation of short-term and working memory, retrieval for quick calculations, and strategic thinking. These games also help build the cognitive skills of observation for patterning, grouping, sorting, and classification.
Question Games Kids of all ages (and adults too) love question games. Question games create opportunities for top-down information processing, information seeking, and problem solving. You can buy games like Guess Who?, Pictionary, and Hedbanz, but it’s easy to create question games with a few materials you have at home. Clue-giving and guessing games can be as simple as writing several different objects, people, or feelings on index cards and taking turns acting them out and giving or receiving clues for guessing.
Puzzles Put the electronics down, and dust off the puzzles. Puzzles look simple—a big picture cut up into 100 or more pieces. However, they require complex and rich work of the left and right sides of the brain with a good dose of sustained attention. These interconnections improve mental speed, visual-spatial reasoning, part-whole relationships, and memory. According to Stanford University, puzzles exercise skills are great for indirectly helping a child’s math abilities.
There are many kinds of puzzles, and your children are sure to find one or more types that keep their minds busy with engaged focus and fun. Rebus puzzles ask a question, and the clues to the answer are found in numbers, letters, pictures, and symbols. Knowledge and retrieval of cliches and expressions are needed to solve the puzzles. Crossword puzzles are classic activities for the retrieval of vocabulary and spelling. Jigsaw puzzles can be found for younger and older students, and they are highly effective brain games.
At Best in Class Education Centers, we believe in making learning an interactive experience that taps into strengthening cognitive skills for greater academic and life success. All students can benefit from our enrichment programs for math or English. Contact us today to see how our high-quality programs can help your child’s intellectual and social growth.