Memory Problems? Make A Movie In Your Mind

Do you have a child who can tell you (in great detail) about a movie he saw months ago, but can’t remember what it was that you sent him to get from his room? Can your child quote lines from a movie she’s seen one time, but can’t recall what you just told her to do? Hmmm… I don’t think I’m the only one with kids like this! For whatever reason, my struggling learners are wired to remember what they see in movies but struggle to retain auditory information long enough to act on it before it evaporates. And that’s assuming they were actually listening in the first place. So, I suggest taking advantage of this stronger visual recall by pairing visual cues with auditory cues when giving directions. For example, if you send your child to get a pair of scissors, make cutting motions with your fingers as you tell them to go get the scissors. Okay, that may not be the best example since with our kids we also have to bombard them with various safety reminders and we certainly don’t want to act out what might happen if one runs with scissors. But you get the idea. Another technique that is especially effective with our creative and drama-loving children is to teach them to “Make a movie in your mind”. Tell your child to picture himself doing what you have asked, and encourage him to make his mental movie in color and with details. The more detailed the movie, the better the chances of recall. I’d tell my children that I was going to give them some instructions, and to make a movie to visualize themselves doing the tasks. Usually if I told my kids three things to do they would not remember all three things. Besides the working memory issues, they would get distracted along the way and lessen the likelihood of recall even more. With the movie technique, they could stop and mentally “watch” the movie again to remember what they had been assigned and picture themselves performing the tasks. In the movie, they could see themselves doing what they needed to and could check to see if they were missing anything. It took some practice, but this strategy made a huge difference for my kids. They went from being able to follow one simple direction at a time to being able to follow multi-step instructions. Just as athletes can improve their performances by visualizing themselves doing things correctly, our struggling students can improve their recall by taking advantage of their visual and creativity strengths.

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