Enhancing Memory

An inability to remember information that has been taught and seemingly learned is a common description of the crossover child or the child with a learning disability.

Memory deficits may be caused by a number of factors, but inappropriate storage will most certainly deter effective retrieval of the information needed to complete daily work. Memory is enhanced:

  • When new information is meaningfully related with old. For instance, relating "chair" to "desk" results in better long-term recall than relating "chair" to "hair," which rhymes and shares letter similarities.
  • When it involves emotion or personal meaning. Basing lessons upon personal content such as journals, creative writing, or favorite literature is appropriate.
  • When meaningful clues are provided to facilitate recall. Multiple-choice tests are easier than essay tests in this regard, but some students may find that the holistic responses required by essay questions provide a structure that evokes a better-integrated response.
  • When it is stored in relation to and filtered through previously stored events. For students who have experienced very little of the world, providing opportunities for field trips, speakers, and other real-life contacts may be necessary to enhance the required book learning of the classroom.
Teaching groups of children limits an instructor's ability to attend to the needs of each individual child. The following good teaching practices should increase the likelihood of learning in children with both attentional and memory deficits, despite the group setting.
  • Use learning "set" procedures to cue children that something important will be said.
  • Use multisensory materials whenever possible. Primary grade teachers routinely use manipulatives with young children, who are concrete and literal minded in their thinking. Teachers of older children may not feel this is necessary and, as content becomes more abstract, may have more difficulty in finding such materials. As a consequence, many slip into a predominantly lecture or discussion mode of teaching.
  • Use applied situational learning whenever possible. Role-playing, simulations, unit teaching, or creative writing projects are preferable to isolated subject-oriented drill and practice because of the interest and personal meaning they provide.
  • Use visualization to enhance meaning. Telling children to "Close your eyes and picture _______" and saying, "Can you see _______?" as well as, "Can you tell me about _______?" will increase the likelihood that a visually oriented child can retain and retrieve information through the imaging process.
  • Use group response techniques to maintain involvement. Rather than calling only on individuals during discussion, intersperse such directions as, "Everyone who agrees raise your right hand," or "Let's all point to the place in the book that tells us how Jean solved the mystery."

Council for Exceptional Children

Provided in partnership with The Council for Exceptional Children.

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