How to build retentive memory in a child
child development

16 Effective ways to build memory retentiveness in a child timely

How to build retentive memory in a child?


If you find out that your child cannot easily remember or recall things being taught either by you or in A class base setting or even anywhere can make you sad; as it can also be a joyful thing for teachers, educators and every parent/guardian whose child or ward is apt in remembering things learnt; no doubt about it.

Think of it; having effective retentive memory is an important tool in every child developmental period’ as this can help him/her to perform well at learning and also enhance achieving better grades in academics. Of which, retentive memory has to do with the ability or capacity a child has to retain(store) knowledge or information and successfully recall it with ease when required. It can simply be termed having a good memory; this compliments one of the facts that ‘A good retentive memory is an essential part of building a solid foundation for life long learning and assimilation.

For a parent/guardian to help build a retentive memory in a child, it needs to begin at early childhood; so that the child can benefit from it in early childhood education and later in life long learning, unlearning and relearning. Fact is, every child is not born with a retentive memory and so, it’s required that guardian and teachers help in building and developing kids memory while they are still young.

Memory retention can be categorized as skill which develops and strengthens with use as human being grow. The more the memory is committed to use, the better it becomes, just like any other activity – practice makes perfect. If you want your child to become a master at using his memory skills, it is important that your child is working regularly with his memorization muscles which will in turn enhance his/her ability to retain and recall information when required. 

This article is set to examine the 16 effective ways and processes to build memory retentiveness in your child or ward.

Before we get into the detailed guidelines, let us quickly examine the meaning of the term Memory, major types and the related roles and functions it performs.

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Meaning of memory

When we are asked to define memory, most people think it is all about recalling something or studying for a test good but that is actually not all about it.

Memory: The memory can be defined as the faculty of the brain that acquires, stores, retains, and retrieves information when needed. It is simply the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information. And, for human being to remember facts, events or processes, we have to commit them to memory.

Process of forming memory

The process of forming a memory involves ‘Encoding, Storing, and Retrieving‘ when necessary. We cannot function well without relying on our memory’ therefore every human at any point experience the process of encoding, storing, retaining and subsequently recalling information and past experiences.

Types of Memory

Memory breaks down into three(3) major parts which include the sensory memory, short- term memory and the long- term memory and from which others attributes of memory find bases.

1.      Sensory memory

This acts as a buffer for stimuli received through the five human senses. These images are accurately retained, but only for a brief moment in time, typically a second or less than half a second.

2.      The Short-Term Memory

The short-term memory which is also known as the primary or active memory has the capacity to hold a small amount of information in mind – active, ready, and available for a short period. It is the part of our brain that holds onto information until we need to recall it. It is often interchanged with the term ‘’working memory’’ which is temporary. It has a low capacity as the information being processed will either be dismissed quickly or entered into our long term memory. It helps children recall and process new information in order to tackle a task at hand. For example, remembering a phone number that has just been recited, reciting short poem that just been learnt etc..

3.      The Long-Term Memory

The long-term memory keeps memories that we hold for periods of time longer than a few seconds, hours and could be years. It is the brain’s system for storing, managing and recalling information. The capacity of our long-term memory is immeasurable. It can retain larger quantities of information for unlimited duration. It includes the storage of anything that occurred five minutes ago to about 20 years ago. It is known as the ‘’life time memory’’ which holds life long memories we experienced. Some memories can also be retained from the time they were created until we die. The long-term memory is maintained by permanent changes in neural connections widely spread throughout the brain.

Having understand the concept of memory and the parts related to its roles and functionality, let us now look into memory retentiveness and how to help a child build it starting in early childhood.

What is retentive memory?

The word “Retentive” as to human memory can simply mean capacity to retain or effectiveness in retaining facts and impression. Therefore…

Retentive memory is the ability or capacity to retain knowledge or information for as long as it is possible to retrieve or recall same information for future use.

Having a memory retentiveness describes you are able to recall things very well though stored for a period of time.

A retentive memory is an essential part of children needs for building a strong foundation for learning and also having clear memories of childhood, enriching their experiences and building important life skills.

How to build retentive memory in a child?

Despite, not every child is born with a sound retentive memory I earlier said; so as a parent/guardian, teachers, educator, caregiver and all kids lovers, you have a responsibility to help kids build one.

There are various strategies you can adopt to build a sound retentive memory in a child; however, below I am going to enumerate and lay emphasis on the most proven and effective ways to build memory retentiveness in a child.

16 Effective ways to build memory retentiveness in a child timely.

When a child has a sound retentive memory, it will help him academically than ever, therefore do/act on the below enumerated key things to help your child build good memory

  1. Read Daily

It is a known fact that you cannot remember what you have not read, heard or seen. Therefore, through this way you either make them read or you read with them. Either ways you are encouraging them to read and as well helping them to keep information bit by bit in their memory.

Kindly know that there is a productive time for every child to learn and assimilate. It could either be in the morning, afternoon, evening or night. It is a time when they can engage more and leverage better in learning and storing information. You have to help them discover which is theirs by watching how and when they grasp learning faster.

Plain reading does not help the short-term memory as active reading does. When reading, you can teach them to highlight, underline, or write down keywords. They can go back and read what they jotted in the book to consolidate the information in the long-term memory

2. Be Practical

To be practical is to demonstrate learning or ideas in a more realistic way. It involves putting actions, theories or stories heard into life so that it becomes real. It also means to create analogy. An analogy is a comparison of one thing to another typically for the purpose of explanation and to have clear view. Give examples using things that the children are familiar with and can relate to, this makes it easier to call the memory. They already understand the concept of the example, so when you link it with the new topic, they don’t find it strange. You would be surprised that whenever you ask them a question regarding that topic, they answer the question comprehensively.

3. De-Stress your Child

The brain will not be able to process information very well if it is exhausted and stressed. When your child is stressed, he will find it hard to concentrate well in class and, even recalling what he learnt as well as events. As a parent, or teacher, you tend to get frustrated when you continuously teach a child and he keeps forgetting things. In order to help in relieving such child of his stress, give him some time to rest when he gets back from school. Create entertaining section such as freshening up, taking snacks, listening to favorite songs, playing games, or having productive conversations before study time. This will help in refreshing their memory, making their heads lighter and in turn it easy to get their full attention to focus on their lessons.

4. Healthy diet

The level of a child’s concentration, memory and intelligence depends to a great extent on what he or she eats. A child’s diet has a major impact on how well he concentrates in school, although many parents fail to understand this.

Healthy foods are what we take that gives nutrients, vitamins or better still perform one function or another in our body system. It is the opposite of junks and cravings. There are certain foods that we use as regular diet that have active nutritional values when it comes to improving children’s concentration. They are foods that can help in improving the brain functions, memory attentiveness, concentration and also boosting a child’s brain growth. We use them as regular diet but can boost the body system when it comes to improving children’s concentration. Example of such foods are Eggs, Beans, Vegetables and Fruits

Eggs are a great protein source but the yolks are also filled with chlorine which helps in developing the memory greatly. Give your child eggs regularly, it could be either more of boiled or less of fried.

Beans are also well known as a great protein source. Beans are packed with not only protein but also with lots of vitamins and minerals.

Vegetables are very good for the brain and, it consists of antioxidants that keep the brain cells healthy and strong. Feed your child with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and, spinach etc.

There are several other foods that are good for building your child’s brain power. Feed them more of protein, vegetables, fish, oatmeal, apples and plums. Let them drink much water daily as opposed to a lot of candies, biscuits or cookies.         

Good diet will help in improving the brain function of your child and you will be surprised at how much information your child’s brain can retain. Also healthy diet as such like Mediterranean’s is widely considered the healthiest diet of all as it enhance health, longevity and lowers rate of Alzheimer’s disease in old age.

5. Make learning exciting

To make learning exciting, help your child form a song, rhyme, or poem from the information he is learning. I remember finding it difficult to know the first twenty elements, but when it was put into a song, it stuck immediately. Our brains are naturally wired to recall music and patterns. So, to put information into a song can help your child improve his or her memory.

Make learning a fun thing to do, not a boring chore, or something done to only pass tests. Encourage enthusiasm, by going on field trips. You can take your child to the public library, or the museums, or the art gallery. If your child is interested in what he or she is learning, it’ll be easier to remember in the future and make him want to do it over and over again.

6. Ask Questions

One major reason you should ask questions is to ascertain the level and depth of understanding of the child being taught as often as possible. While the teaching is on, some may have been distracted because children actually get easily distracted. When you ask a child questions, you support their critical thinking, language development and you also encourage them to talk about their ideas, their reflections and also their perspective about things. Create an opportunity to make your child supply you with knowledge about what he has learned by asking questions regularly.

As a teacher, you know the type of questions that are appropriate for child during a particular session, so it is important to ask questions that will engage a child in evaluating, analyzing and creating to develop their brain power.

As a parent, you can ask your child to explain what he or she learned at school. It is essential to know how much your child can remember because this will help you know how much information they can retain and, asking your child questions will make he or she concentrate more in class and, it will develop their retentive memory.

7. Let them teach you

You can also let them teach you. You do this by asking them to tell you about the previous topics, ideas and lessons learnt or considered all in their own understanding. This way you know what they have retained and what they have sifted. It gives them the opportunity to express themselves how best they understand.

Whenever your child creates his or her own examples, most time they do so by relating it to his or her own personal experiences. It makes the processing of information easier for them as they can instantly tag and attach their experiences to the information they are trying to pass across.

8. Employ Visualization Skills

Visualization is a technique used in creating images to communicate a message. Visualizing simply means to form a picture of something or someone in your mind in order to recall or imagine it.

Encourage your child to create a picture in his or her mind about what they just heard or read; this will help them in creating meaning for themselves in their own way. Also, the use of visual aids helps children to remember information that has been recently seen, read, or heard.

Make flashcards that contain boldly written words or images. It can be used to practice word definitions or to practice matching exercises.

9. Make Sleep a Priority

The quantity and quality of sleep your child haves influences the brain power greatly. Research has shown that sleep is very important for learning and memory. Taking a nap after learning something new can help in learning and assimilating faster.

When a child gets appropriate sleep, it helps to strengthen their focus, improve their memory greatly, aid mathematical and logical reasoning, and strengthen their motor skills as well as having a positive effect on a child’s mood. Having an appropriate sleep is essential in building a sound retentive memory.

10. Teach Shorter Lessons

Too many hours of reading or learning is enough for your child to lose focus.

Small-sized amounts of information are easier to remember than attacking a large chunk all at once. Begin with the basics and then build up from there.

 If they keep reading or learning after they have exceeded their focus limit it will be a waste and thus memory cannot be boosted. Nothing will be retained. The shorter the time, the easier it is to comprehend

11. Repetition until mastery

This helps to recall it easier as your brain and even muscles are familiar with the task.   

12. Create mind maps

A mind map is like a collection of various ideas and how they relate to each other. When you build connections between words and topics, it helps children actively engage with the topic and gain a deeper understanding, which as was said earlier, understanding is key to easy remembrance.

13. Play  

The saying that ‘’All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’’ is true to an extent.

After all the readings and experiments, there is a need to relax the brain because only then can it absorb more. It is like opening air to ones brain after hours of reading and studying. To take the stress out of learning when playing, sing the rhymes and song learnt from making learning exciting. Let them play games that can make them think like chess, card games and so on.   It is a break no child will want to miss. Thus, as much as they want to have fun, you can also make them keep learning.

14. Pray

In as much as we want them to read and study, the place of prayer can not be negated; we need to pray so they can have a good memory. We should not forget the place of God in helping them become bright students or boosting their memory. In everything we ought to ask God for guidance. The Bible says that the entrance of God’s word gives light and understanding unto the simple. This explains that when we pray or study the bible with our kids before they read, they will have the capacity to retain knowledge and have understanding even more than their teachers.  This has been proven over the years. You will know it is true by giving a trial, then you can see how much it helps.

15. Actively use all Senses

Learn by using all the five senses, sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. You can do that by reading aloud, showing them things, giving them things that are safe for tasting. Engage the material in different ways, it makes it easier for your child to connect with it and also remember it. 

16. Physical Exercise

Take a walkout, chew gums, dance to good music, sing melodious song, skip ropes and less related strenuous exercise.

The above 16 enumerated tips is proven to improve and boost your child’s retentive memory if you follow them closely.

Advantage of exercising your child memory skills

  • Better grades in school: It is not uncommon to read and forget but it is an added bonus to your child if he or she is able to remember with little effort what has been taught in class previously or what they have read before a test or an exam. 
  • It preserves your ability to think reason and remember: Memory exercises change the brain for the better, such that even when your child becomes a senior citizen, he or she still has a very active brain.
  • It boosts overall mental performance: Not just in school but everywhere. Your child’s brain becomes a safe haven for information storing and retrieving.
  • It reduces the risk of your child developing brain diseases like dementia later on: It’s just like having a healthy body. A healthy body is immune to diseases but an unhealthy body is susceptible to diseases.  
  • It keeps your child’s brain engaged always

When to start working on your child’s memory skills?

Every child is born with the ability to store and retrieve information from the brain but this becomes an active and conscious phenomenon when a child is about 2-3 years. By the age of 6 or 7, your child’s memory is already similar to that of an adult. And for those that have not consider this early; the time to start is now.

Nutrition’s Dos & Don’t of memory retention

The food we eat is an important factor in how active or inactive our memory skills will function. Good food is always the right way to go. Here are some foods you should eat more or avoid.

  • Consume less sugar

Consuming too much sugar has been found to be related to the reasons behind some diseases such as cognitive decline. A sugar-filled diet can lead to poor memory and can affect the part of the brain that handles short-term memory. So, it would do us well to reduce the amount of added sugar we feed our children. 

  • Fish oil supplement

I am a food scientist so I am resisting the urge to dive into the details of the benefits of fish oil supplements. This supplement is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These fats’ are good for overall health and are shown to slow mental health decline and reduce symptoms of asthma and ADHD. And amazingly you can start feeding your child diets rich in omega-3 fatty acid after your child is one year. 

  • Reduce intake of refined carbohydrates

Eating large amounts of refined carbs like cookies, bread (white), cereals, cakes, etc. can be damaging to the memory. Studies have linked the cause of reduced cognitive function to a high-level intake of refined carbohydrates. It will do your child good to cut down on the intake of refined carbs. 

  • Take more of Cocoa

Cocoa is the plant used in producing beverages, dark chocolate, etc. It is both delicious and nutritious, it contains antioxidants called flavonoids with are particularly beneficial to the brain. They also help to increase the blood flow to the brain. 

  • Others

Consume more of vegetables, fruits, natural sugar like honey and drink plenty water to keep the brain hydrated.

Parents also read: How to improve a child working memory 

You’ve find this information useful and want to share your view with us’ kindly use the comment box below’ we can’t wait longer to hear from you. Like and share for others to benefit. Thanks for reading.

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