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How Making Connections Helps Your Child’s Memory

As children learn, they add new information to what they already know. Their brains are continually reorganizing, adapting, and restructuring. In this post, we look at several ways you can organize information so your child is more likely to remember it later.

Let’s Start by Looking at Schemas

Knowledge is organized into elaborate networks called schemas. A schema is a model of how knowledge is organized and how new information is added. For example, a child may have the following schema for the alphabet:

Gradually this schema becomes much more complex as the child adds more information to his knowledge base: the sounds of the letters, how to print or write cursive, which letters are vowels, and how to blend letter sounds to read words.

Each letter of the alphabet will have information attached to it. For example, a schema for the letter H might look like this:

The letter H is fairly simple. The schema for vowels will be much more complex because of the wide range of sounds that a vowel can make alone and in conjunction with other letters.

Every bit of information stored in your child’s brain is connected to something else.

As your child’s brain builds a schema, new information is attached to previously stored information. Although we can’t show it through a simple drawing, the number of connections between pieces of information is unlimited since multiple ideas and concepts can be intricately interconnected. Watch this video for a 30-second demonstration.

If there is nothing to relate the new information to, there is no way for it to be stored in long-term memory. Instead, it is dropped from short-term memory and completely forgotten. If someone talks to you in Russian, and you don’t speak Russian, there is nothing for that information to connect to, and the information is dropped.

Help Your Child Build a Schema

All About Reading and All About Spelling help your child build an efficient schema or network of knowledge. Here are three important ways our programs help organize information:

  1. Make connections to things your child already knows. For example, one of the first spelling rules your child will learn is that CK is generally used for the sound of /k/ immediately after a short vowel. Example words include rock, snack, and pick. See how the CK comes right after the short vowel in those words?

    It just so happens that there are two more phonograms that come only after a short vowel: DGE and TCH. DGE spells the sound of /j/ only after a short vowel, and TCH spells /ch/ only after a short vowel. So when it comes time to teach the usage of DGE and TCH, it is helpful to make a connection to the rule they previously learned about CK. The rules are so closely related that we should tie them together in your child’s brain instead of treating them as separate ideas to be stored randomly.
  2. Use analogies. An analogy is a comparison between two things that are otherwise dissimilar. For example, when we teach syllable types, we compare an “open syllable” with an open door. An open syllable ends in a vowel; there is no consonant closing it in. The word she is an open syllable because there is no consonant closing in the vowel E. Likewise, the first syllable in the word apron is an open syllable, with no consonant closing in the vowel A. Students label these syllable types with a syllable tag representing an open door. Using analogies (like the “open door” analogy) is a powerful way to make connections in the brain.

    open syllable tag
  3. Provide content that has unifying themes. For example, our color-coded letter tiles are grouped according to themes. Ways to spell the sound of /er/ are purple, vowel teams are red, consonant teams are blue, and so on.

    letter tiles on white board

By helping your child build an organized schema, you’ll be helping her build her long-term memory. Each new bit of information will have a logical place to connect to, and your teaching will be more effective.

Additional Help for Your Child’s Memory

Download my free e-book “Help Your Child’s Memory” to learn more techniques to help strengthen your child’s memory and achieve learning that really sticks.

download help your child's memory ebook

In this e-book you will discover…

  • Why information goes right over your child’s head … and what to do about it
  • How the “Funnel Concept” can improve your teaching and result in long-term learning
  • Schemas—what they are and how they help improve memory
  • What “Simultaneous Multisensory Instruction” is, and why it is such a powerful teaching method
  • Six things you can do today to improve your child’s working memory

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Steve W.

says:

My child suffers from poor working memory and this was very helpful in teaching me how to help her. We ordered Headbanz and learned a few more techniques from the ebook. Thank you so much for guiding us in the right direction to the best ways to help our children. My 8-year-old has more confidence in reading and it is branching off into other aspects of her life.

Sabriya

says:

These are great tips to boost learning and creating new schema.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Sabriya.

Jennifer

says:

Wow this is so helpful

Sarah

says:

Very helpful. I loved the graphic organizers.

Laura

says:

Love the process of this program.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Laura!

M Ng

says:

This concept of helping children build schemas is helpful. I Mom forward to reading more articles on this site.

Jennifer Hess

says:

So excited to start helping my grandkids learn,

Rae-Ann Casillas

says:

Wow! It amazed me to learn here and tips to help my child understand! When its just something that mt brain already gets.

Sara

says:

can’t wait for my level 1 to come in!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sara,
Level 1 of All About Reading and All About Spelling are currently available and in stock.

Kim

says:

Awesome multi sensory resources. Appreciate the free resources!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Kim!

Evangeline Mitchem

says:

Your program sounds very good. I need to remember this to help my children know what sounds these letters make.

Carol

says:

Thank you! This is so helpful in learning sounds.

Heather C

says:

Great tips for helping them remember! Connections!

Heather

says:

I definitely need to remember the tip about connecting info to things they already know. The CK/DGE/TCH after a short vowel! Ah-ha!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Heather,
Yes! That pattern was an eyeopener for me too. There are a handful of short vowel words that do not use TCH that are common (much and such, for example), but otherwise the pattern holds for all three phonograms.

Stephanie M

says:

So many good things in this article. This website has been a blessing!

Jennefer

says:

Lots of good tips! I’ll be putting them to use!

Faith Yoder

says:

Love this info!

Audra

says:

Love the free resources!

Sara

says:

I love the resources on this site and I am excited to begin using AAR soon with my daughter!

Jenny S.

says:

I am reviewing this All About Reading for my grandson. We are beginning home school and he is so excited! I think I have found the program to keep him excited about learning to read!

Ingrid

says:

I am very interested in the All About Reading. I have a struggling grade 4 student. I am currently using an OG program but it is bland and I feel she is bored. I look forward to testing her this fall and seeing which level she fits into.
Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Ingrid! Let me know if you have any questions about placement or anything else.

christi w

says:

So many things I did not know myself and am learning right along my kiddos

Helena

says:

Wow, interesting. I still have a bunch to learn myself. My daughter loves AAR and can’t wait to do the next level or start spelling! I can’t slow her down! We’ll see what her younger siblings do.

Katie Stephens

says:

We love the AAR system!

Alexandra David

says:

Very interesting.

Jenny S

says:

Great read!

Ashley

says:

I think this blog is not well enough known, i believe this will make the difference in my children learning how to read and spell. Thank you for these posts. I have been learning so much.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m very pleased to hear that you have found our blog helpful for teaching your children, Ashley! Thank you.

Kelly

says:

Great information

Pamela Wentzel

says:

This is all so interesting. Thank you for this information!

Amy Roma

says:

We are excited to start our AAR and AAS! Everything we have heard and read are fabulous and we belive our kiddos will truly enjoy them, all while learning with ease!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Amy!

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