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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Building Your Child's Memory                   April 6, 2011


Nancy Carter Picture 

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:

marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14


The brain is such an amazing and complex organ. As we help our children become lifelong learners, one thing we can also do is to help them improve their memory skills.


Do you remember the simple Memory card games that you would play as a child? It served a purpose! What about that wonderful electronic Simon game from the '70s? And I think Perfection was a good one too. Now kids have games like Brain Age and Mega Brain Boost, among others. I think it's great to play games like those right along with your child to help work those areas of their brain while also increasing their confidence.


Of course, there are other things that you can do as well. Check out this Top 10 List to Improve Your Child's Memory from Psychology Today. This article from BrightHub also mentions vitamins and rest and includes some links to online games that help increase memory.


However, someone who understands how the brain works MUCH better than I do is Dianne Craft, who has a master's degree in special education and is also a nutritionist. She has many wonderful articles on her website. For instance, did you know that sometimes memory problems-i.e., the child knows the material some days but not others-can be a symptom of yeast overgrowth? She also has articles on how lecithin can improve memory, essential fatty acids and the brain, and the biology of learning and behavior. She'll be doing a workshop next Tuesday, April 12, during the Schoolhouse Expo preshow, discussing children who don't learn like others and giving strategies to help learning "stick" for them! You won't want to miss it or her follow-up session in May. If you don't already have a ticket, buy yours today in the Schoolhouse Store.


Meanwhile, here is another article on simple activities to help increase short-term memory. I really like the link to a tutorial on the biology of memory. It's interesting stuff!


Enjoy every minute!


~Nancy Carter 

Nancy Carter
THM Editor





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Deborah WuehlerMercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor

We have done several things with our kids to help build their memory over the years. We have used songs to memorize the books of the Bible, rhythms and clapping to memorize Bible verses, repetition to memorize catechisms and creeds, and mnemonics to memorize more complicated items such as the kings of Israel or the Beatitudes. Wikipedia's definition of mnemonics: "A mnemonic or mnemonic device is any learning technique that aids memory. "I have listed some things you might try to aid memory retention. For example, if you were studying the Beatitudes and wanted to help the kids memorize them, you might do several fun projects enlisting all of their senses in order to help their brain retain the information-projects such as:

Here are other subjects that might need help in memory retention:


Books of the Bible:


All subjects: 

In my opinion, memorizing Bible passages beats all other methods of training your brain. There is nothing like getting the living Word of God into your heart, soul, and mind. One of the first things we have our children memorize is the first Psalm. It's all in there, the blessings of living righteously before God and the benefits of meditating on His Word-this is where our hearts and minds truly prosper:


Psalm 1:


Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.



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Gena Suarez

Hey from Gena

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS   


(TOS Director of Marketing, Julie Nott is writing for Gena this week.) 


Building your child's memory . . . what about building OUR memory? I'm having to write this article for Gena because I think she FORGOT. Now . . . she'll probably tell you that it's because she was preparing to go on a trip with the family to Texas, and that they left today, and blah blah blah. But secretly I'm thinking it just plain slipped her mind.


So, here I go picking up the pieces. (grin) Remembering random numbers and dates has always been a "gift" for me. I can still remember the phone number of my best friend in high school-from more than 20 years ago! I've got my husband's Social Security number memorized, both of our license plates, both of our driver's license numbers. But ask me where I put my cell phone or my keys or my shoes last night? Oh dear.


Most days I think my kids have inherited some of my "memory loss." But aren't their brains supposed to be "sponges" or something like that? Harumph. In the early years, we did a lot of singing to help them memorize. You know . . . the ABCs, Jesus Loves Me, our address and phone number. I truly believe that music is one of the most powerful ways to memorize things and to stretch our kids' brains. How many song lyrics can you STILL quote from your childhood or high school days? You don't have to be a professional opera singer or anything-just make a "joyful noise!" Get some state capital songs set to music (yes, they are available). Have the kids learn their multiplication tables by developing their OWN rap song! What a hoot that would be!


Before I forget, TOS is going to be at the Alabama Homeschool Convention April 7-9 at the Montgomery Convention Center. I will be manning the booth with another staff member, Wendy Hilton, and her husband, Scott. Please, if you haven't checked out the convention website at, do so today. There are going to be some amazing speakers, including our "very own" Todd Wilson! In addition, there is a biblical worldview track just for teens! Tickets are still available at the door, so check it out. We'll be giving away free Homeschooling With Heart totes and your choice of back issues for anyone who subscribes with our convention special. I hope to see some of you there. Please come say HI!


Julie Nott

Director of Marketing 



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Todd Wilson The Familyman
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries


Brain drills . . . that'll build your child's memory, but you have to start early. In fact, if you can begin while they're still in the womb, that's even better. Just take any subject, set of facts, or historical dates and drill them over and over until you've driven any love of learning completely from your child's head.


Actually, you can do all that and they still won't remember the facts, unless they were created to remember facts. I'm a case in point. As a child, I would bring home my spelling list on Monday, and my mother would drill me every night until the test on Friday. I always got them right, but to this day I'm the world's worst speller (praise the Lord for spell check and a wife who CAN spell).


Oh, I got good grades for sure . . . and if that's what makes YOU feel good, drill away. But if you want your children to really learn, then let them enjoy learning the things that are important to them and fit within their gifting; they'll remember those things forever without your drilling. No amount of drilling will make the other things stick.


Kind of makes your life easier, doesn't it? And your child will not only enjoy homeschooling more but will enjoy YOU more as well.


Be Real,



P.S. Sure enjoyed meeting so many of you at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention! I will be in Montgomery, Ala., at the Alabama Homeschool Expo this weekend. As always, the first person to come up to me and share a meaningless bit of trivia that you remember from your school days gets a free book.


P.P.S. You can follow our RV traveling adventures at Todd's RV blog.



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It's Just Common Sense

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant 


Our goal as educators is to teach in such a way as to impact long-term memory. Learning techniques, such as memorization, repetition, practice, and association make up the first level of learning, coming through what your senses tell you. The second level of learning connects more with long-term memory. This level includes connecting new learning to old, requiring a rearrangement of thought. This deepens understanding and builds thinking skills. A child is not merely storing facts, he is grappling with the information, and that produces change, growth, and understanding. It is often reflected in the lovely look on your child's face when he has an "aha" moment.

The best way to build a child's memory is by basing learning on meaning and experience. When a child understands the uses of a word, particularly in context, he will be able to recall that word more easily and use it correctly. Learning that is experience-based has natural connections to memory. This is one of the benefits of the unit study approach. Reading and writing connects to experience and understanding, making learning more permanent and meaningful.

An alarming trend today views building rote memory as an appropriate, or even superior, way to teach children. God created children as developmental beings, made in His image and motivated by understanding. They enjoy relating to people of good character who are inspiring. Spend your time with your precious children connecting their hearts to principles, not just patterns. At 5, both of my children understood the concepts of their sinfulness and the gift of God's grace through salvation. I am grateful that our Lord, understanding His creation, spoke to their hearts. I hope that He will continue speaking to ours. 

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

~ Debbie 

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Contest Central  

For the month of April, 2011   


History of Holidays


Each year I try to make some attempt to incorporate holiday themes into our lesson plans, but I rarely do anything that leaves any real, lasting impression. Very little of these mini-units could even qualify as teaching. And so I was excited to find Amy Pak's unit entitled History of Holidays from Homeschool in the Woods ( This CD-ROM allows you to make an actual lesson for holidays instead of the typical coloring page or crossword puzzle, and the lessons are more fun than any word puzzle ever thought of being. Each holiday lesson shares history and actual hands-on activities that can be enjoyed by all ages. Best of all, it is created by Amy Pak, who is well-known for her high-quality art and educational helps. The activity creations aren't the kind that get stuck to the refrigerator and then discarded a month later; these are treasures for notebooking and for keepsakes. . . .


Most lessons include one or two pages of text, providing background information and history for the holiday to be studied. The Christmas unit includes four pages of text, and these include a chart comparing Old Testament verses of prophecy with New Testament verses that fulfill those prophecies. Each holiday is beautifully shared, and though the study is geared toward elementary-level students, I had students ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade who thoroughly enjoyed the lessons. . . .


Read the rest of the review here. Win this CD-ROM for your family!



Email Deb with your name and mailing address and the subject, "History of Holidays" for a chance to win* this CD-ROM!


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