Childhood is the most critical time for developing a human brain, especially cognitive skills. Children go through multiple stages of learning as they navigate their formative years.
They learn different things through their senses, adjusting to the world around them and starting to create and remember memories.
At this stage, a parent’s close and supportive guidance are vital for children to learn efficiently and correctly and to provide them with different ways to develop memory skills.
Table of Contents:
- Biological Aspects Of Brain Development
- Developmental Milestones In Memory Skills
- Socio-Cultural Influences On Memory Skills
- Games & Toys To Boost Memory Skills in Kids
- Memory Building Activities For Kids
Memory is ‘the ability to store knowledge or a representation of experience, based on the mental processes of learning or encoding, retention through some interval of time, and retrieval or reactivation of the memory,’ according to the American Psychological Association.
It includes experiences that a person encounters and stores in their minds. For an event or a scenario to be memorable, it must come with an exciting thing that a child can retain and remember, thus making their memory.
Biological Aspects Of Brain Development
From a biological viewpoint, memory is considered a complicated idea, and how it exactly works is still a vague concept that cannot be fully explained.
However, it is known that it involves the part of the brain called the hippocampus, which binds together different elements in a memory stored in other parts of the brain. The hippocampus allows the brain to organize these memories.
Scientists also believe that the hippocampus is responsible for transferring information into long-term memories.
Different types of memories are stored in other areas. Visual information, for example, can be stored in the visual cortex. Neuroscience even suggests that specific memories have separate neural circuits, particularly for their type and purpose.
Other factors such as hormonal fluctuation, protein synthesis, and changes in neurotransmitter release from neurons are also involved in creating and keeping memories.
Another biological aspect involved is long-term potentiation, or changes in synapses forming long-term memories, creating more responsive synapses.
Since a child’s brain is continuously developing, it is essential to keep them physiologically healthy to allow their brains to function correctly and retain needed memories.
Developmental Milestones In Memory Skills
Psychologist Jean Piaget believed that children think differently from adults, following a different track in cognitive development milestones. These milestones show the progress in which the child is developing, as well as their rate in comparison to other children their age.
Piaget developed the theory of cognitive development, which suggests that children move through four different stages of learning: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal active phases.
1. Sensorimotor Stage – 0 to 2 years
Cognitive development begins during the sensorimotor stage. Babies use their senses and their developing abilities to build awareness about their environment.
In particular, they enjoy sucking, licking, grasping, etc. because they find these actions pleasurable. From birth to 2 years, babies’ actions progress from reflexive to intentional habits.
With regards to memory, babies can recognize their mother’s voice or nursery rhymes they repeatedly heard while in the womb. In the study conducted by psychologist Carolyn Rovee-Collier, she found out that babies as young as 2 months can display recall memory.
She placed the babies under a mobile and attached it to the baby’s feet with a ribbon. The babies learned that kicking makes the mobile move and was able to retain the memory for 2 days and even several weeks for older babies.
By 9 months, babies can already remember people and objects. As they grow, they learn to recognize different sounds and form a basic vocabulary of speech-like sounds and short phrases.
2. Pre-Operational Stage – 2 to 7 years
While in the previous stage babies learn about the world through actions, in the preoperational stage of growing children begin to understand that symbols represent events or objects.
As their language and thinking skills improve, they can use words and pictures in describing objects. They also learn about the difference between the past and the future and engage in imaginative play.
Children at this stage likewise don’t understand viewpoints other than their own (egocentrism). Piaget also found that children younger than five years don’t understand the concept of conversion, or know that a quantity remains the same even if its appearance changes.
A more recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Diagnostic Research shows that preschool children do not understand the concept of reversibility. However, they believe that this characteristic decreases with age.
3. Concrete Operational Stage – 7 to 11 years old
Kids at this stage begin to think logically and can manipulate symbols to solve problems. They learn to classify things and sort them into sub-classes.
They process information more quickly and have longer attention spans. Their short and long-term memory improves, along with their reading and writing skills. At this stage, children rely on their working memory to perform tasks and solve simple problems.
4. Formal Operational Stage – 12 years & beyond
The final stage of Piaget’s formal operational stage begins during adolescence and lasts until adulthood. Pre-teens and teenagers are now able to think abstractly and use advanced logic for reasoning.
With regards to memory, researchers from the University College London (UCL), found that adolescents possess a great recall for autobiographical memories.
They can also remember song lyrics, movie lines, titles, books, and public events better than any other age group. In addition, the researchers also found that stress and drug use can negatively affect memory formation in teens and young adults.
Socio-Cultural Influences On Memory Skills
The environment a child grows up in is a vital factor in determining and influencing their brain potential. Children should constantly be exposed to new sights, sounds, textures, and other experiences that involve using their senses to strengthen their memory and improve neural networks.
Games & Toys To Boost Memory Skills in Kids
As a parent, you must ensure that your child gets exposed to different activities to help them develop their brain and increase their mental capacity.
If you’re looking for ways to do this, you can find games, activities, and a variety of puzzles available to help your child train their brain and improve critical thinking.
Numerous ways are available to support your child’s memory development, such as providing them with journals and storybooks, but the best and most interesting for them would be in the form of games.
Parents and guardians can simultaneously allow children to play and improve their minds. Some of these ways are through:
Since memory is created through one’s senses and allows the brain to process this information and retain memory, toys are the best option for children growing up.
These should involve mechanisms that enable the child to discover basic movements filled with colors and sounds to improve their visual memory and auditory skills. Also, it is best if the toy has a texture that can enhance memory through touch.
Toys are excellent in providing opportunities to practice different thinking skills, allowing the child to imitate the action, understand cause and effect, fundamental problem solving, and start the idea of symbolic thinking.
Be careful when choosing toys; ensure they are age-appropriate, as choking hazards are common for younger children.
3. Indoor and Outdoor Games
Indoor games allow the child to be comfortable when playing in a closed setting, usually with parents, guardians, babysitters, or other children. They let them be in a calm, quiet location where they can focus on their toy or game properly.
Outdoor games, however, usually develop their memory of the outside world as they can see the surroundings and many elements present in the playing area while improving their body skills.
Both options are great for developing a child’s memory, and it is essential to find the proper balance to allow them to experience both.
However, supervision is a key requirement, especially if they choose to play outside, as they can be vulnerable to more objects when playing games in an open area.
4. Games Using Technology
Since the modern age of raising children is upon us, some games are available on gadgets such as cellphones, tablets, game consoles, etc.
Tech games for kids are usually interactive and full of details and different features that can develop a child’s visual and auditory memory well.
However, be sure that an adult should supervise them and limit their use of technology and games, as too much can damage their developing minds.
Related: Also check out how console games benefit your kids!
5. Board Games
If you prefer games, your child can learn and grow cognitively; board games should be the best option. These include puzzles, chess, scrabble, checkers, and many others that they can enjoy and also acquire skills such as strategizing and making decisions, and earn a sense of fulfillment afterward.
These board games can also be a great bonding time for the child, the adult, or someone they can play with. Be sure to take note that a child should not put small pieces of board game toys in their mouths to avoid choking hazards and have a safe, fun playtime.
6. Solo And Group Games
Like allowing them to choose between indoor and outdoor games, giving the child an option between solo and group games will enable them to have the freedom between learning the mechanics of the game and the toys by themselves or having the opportunity to share them with someone else, if they are comfortable enough to do so.
They can also share their toys if they want to know more about their mechanics and make friends with whom they can make memories. Aside from memory, their social skills and independence can be improved, allowing them to play alone or with other children.
7. Games Involving Science, Math, And Language
Kids of all ages enjoy games. You can even use games as a teaching opportunity and a memory-boosting tool.
It doesn’t take rocket science to teach your baby about object permanence; a simple game of peekaboo or hide-and-seek is already loads of fun. You can also nurture your baby’s memory by establishing routines, exposing them to tactile activities, and talking to them often.
Related: Check out Best STEM Games for Kids to immerse them in playful learning.
As they enter preschool, you can use games as a way to improve their visualization skills. Play matching games or use flashcards with words and images. Active reading can also help them form long-term memories.
Quick Tip: Try these Playful Preschool Activities to boost learning!
Interactive games, simple experiments, and learning games in different languages can improve critical thinking skills, logical thinking, and conversational skills.
These games are best for children in the pre-operational stage or older since this is when they start to develop the needed skills to understand concepts. Be careful not to overwhelm them and focus too much on learning, as this should still be a fun game for the child.
Memory Building Activities For Kids
Aside from games, other ways you can enjoy yourself with your kid are activities that can hone their skills, such as allowing them to join in activities either in school or extracurricular.
These activities serve as an excellent memory building tool and are an excellent hobbies to pursue as well.
1. Creative Writing
If the child is someone that enjoys reading stories and making up plots for fictional characters, you can encourage them to try creative writing.
It is a type of writing, usually in fiction, where a child can express their imagination in poetry or prose form. This activity can improve their language, storytelling, creativity, resourcefulness, and social skills as they try to connect their rich inner imagination to more people.
For children, a common way to express their inner feelings is by using shapes, lines, colors, and designs. These can form figures that can convey their emotions and allow them to express their thoughts in various colors.
Aside from improving their visual and memory skills, they can also improve their hand-eye coordination, enabling them to express feelings even if they are not inclined to language or words.
The art of dancing involves a lot of memory work that the child can memorize and enjoy simultaneously. Some of its benefits for children include a significant increase in physical confidence, better well-being, and self-esteem.
It can be used as a form of motivation, improve a child’s mental agility, and improve their social skills by dancing with their peers. If your child enjoys dancing, you can enroll them in a dance class, depending on their willingness to learn.
If the child is inclined to listen to songs and tones, you can encourage them to pursue activities in music. One way to do this is to allow them to choose a type of instrument they can learn to play.
Another is to enable them to learn songwriting, improving their language and musical skills. If you see a musical inclination in your child, you can encourage them to pursue activities in music.
Listening to music and performing using instruments they can learn allows the brain to activate and develop areas associated with one’s memory, reasoning, and emotions.
Another art form children can participate in as an activity to enhance their memory skills is theater. It is a way to express their emotions and expose them to a reality that allows them to feel these emotions without ridicule or making them feel frustrated.
If the child is a fan of acting and taking different characters to enhance their imagination and self-expression, theater can be the best option for their memory development.
6. Gardening And Animal Keeping
Some kids are inclined toward nature and its elements, such as the beauty of gardening and animal keeping.
They can improve their skills in focus, concentration, and patience. Keeping under the sun at a healthy time and taking care of animals can be practical activities that kids can experience and improve upon as an activity.
Supervision with using garden tools and taking care of animals can also be a good bonding activity between you and the child. In this activity, they can practice their memory by learning about different types of plants and animals.
7. Hiking And Road Trip
For outdoorsy children who want to go on adventures, nature walks, hiking and road trips can be the best options.
Going to breathtaking places and learning different things from traveling can enhance the mind’s memory and learning skills by remembering directional signs, roads, landmarks, and sights to see while going to the destination.
Other Ways To Improve Your Child’s Memory
Engaging the child in games and activities is a great way to improve their memory retention and cognitive skills. Aside from these, the best way to support them is through providing proper diet and nutrition for their developing brains.
Some of these are green, leafy vegetables, fatty fish, walnuts, and fortified foods to enhance the physiological aspect of cognitive development.
There are numerous ways to improve a child’s memory development. It includes engaging in games that can enhance their cognitive skills while allowing them to have fun, activities that they can improve as hobbies, and giving them a proper diet to enrich their brains.
Children’s minds are continuously developing through their senses; therefore, it is best to give them the support they need.
Arista spends her weekdays as a preschool teacher and content writer for several parenting blogs. On weekends, she heads to the nearest park with her dogs or simply stays at home with the latest puzzles from Hobbyco to stay sane.