Boosting Memory Through Observation
Updated: Sep 18, 2022
Sometimes Moms and Dads will ask, "How can I increase my child's memory?"
It's a great question. And we have an answer!
Memory is enhanced by how much we SEE... and by how much we NOTICE.
When we teach photographic memory, we do so with playful techniques which increase the quality of our intake - in different ways. Observation Training is one of these activities. It is slower than the fast-paced photographic memory games, but it is no less important and is a key component of our play-based learning techniques.
The thrill of a successful photographic memory lesson must be shared before we present Observation Training... or any of the Wink activities that prepare for it.
BECKY'S RIGHT BRAIN VICTORY
Becky's first week of teaching right brain photographic memory to a busy Montessori preschool was both intimidating and exciting. She was invited to give a 20-minute lesson each afternoon, beginning Monday. When she entered the school, the children quickly gathered around her to see what goodies she had in her oversized fishing tackle box.
On Friday afternoon, Becky decided to present the photographic memory lessons. She had taught the different steps throughout the week, and was ready to see what the children could do! So after a wiggly-wriggly-and-yes-giggly relaxation session and a few eye exercises, she began.
"Close your eyes!" she encouraged. She took a handful of small objects out and spread them out on the mat. She covered them with a blue baby blanket.
"Okay, ready..." she called out. The children looked at the blanket with wonder.
"Underneath my blanket is a BIG surprise!" Becky began. "Let's pretend that our eyes are cameras. We are going to take a picture of all the fun things that are under this blanket -- are you ready? I'm about to give you a one-second flash..."
Up went the towel. "Peek-a-boo!" The children leaned in to look as Becky counted. Then she dropped the towel over the objects again.
"What did you see?"
"A clock, a zebra, a frog, a ball, a dog..." the children chorused.
Becky took each object out as they shouted, scurrying to meet their pace. It was quick! Soon they had recalled all nine objects.
She continued again, this time with 25 objects. In a "flash", they recalled every item.
So she poured her whole bag of objects out under the blanket. The children gasped when they heard the sound of all the objects spilling onto the lesson mat. Becky spread them out so that the children would be able to see them clearly. She didn't even know how many objects she had -- maybe 100?
"What did you see?"
Becky lifted the towel slightly and grabbed frantically as she heard objects being called out from all around the room. Soon she had only 3 objects. She lifted the blanket so that the children could see what was left.
The children were so proud. Becky was so amazed.
They were then interrupted by the head teacher's announcement that it was time for Spanish class for some and playground time for others. Imagine the delight in Becky's heart to hear their disappointed groans about having to end the lesson. She smiled. "I did it!" she thought.
This is a very common response to right-brain photographic memory games. Group success encourages everyone to enjoy "right-brain education" and look forward to the classes.
As always with play-based learning, it's key to maintain a playful and loving environment. When giving a one-on-one lesson, we present fewer objects so as to not stress the child. The games must be playful and fun. And for best results, they must also include activities leading up to the memory play which prepares the mind for the fast flashes.
One of these lead-up activities is called "observation training."
Observation training is the process of increasing your conscious perception of every detail of your environment.
Here is our working theory:
The right brain processes all information subconsciously through flashes.
The left brain processes all information consciously through focused attention.
When you help a child focus and look for details BEFORE the flashes, you will increase the amount of information that is processed by both hemispheres.
Is this a new practice? Not at all.
Observation training is a vital part of memory development. It is used in the Special Armed Forces and intelligence agencies worldwide. Trainees are encouraged to look at photographs and pick out as many things as they can in a matter of moments. This sharpens their power of, well, observation. They see more, and can both protect themselves better as well as acquire information quickly for later use.
Observation training requires patience. You need to mentally slow down and notice every particular item in an image. When your observation skills are refined, in conjunction with your photographic memory, you will know how to “rewind and pause” a memory and scan it for specific information.
So how can you enhance observation right now, without any fancy products?
It's really easy.
All you need to do is to get in the habit of asking questions.
You can increase your child’s awareness of details by asking specific questions about what they are seeing.
To play this game, you will need a photograph -- it can be an image in a book, magazine calendar, or from a photo album. Next, ask as many questions as you can about the picture. You can ask about colors, shapes, sizes, and quantities of different aspects. You can also ask about how you think people are feeling, or what they might be saying.
For example, if you and your child are looking at a photograph of a scene of
the Rocky Mountains in North America.
You might ask:
“Where is the highest mountain?
“What colors are in the mountains?
“What colors are in the sky?
“Do you think it is time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in this picture?
“Is it fall, winter, spring, or summer?
“How many clouds are in the sky?”
...and so on.
By asking questions, your child's awareness of the complexity and nuances of what he sees increases. And that enhances his memory. And that increases his working knowledge. And that -- combined with wisdom and creativity -- helps him reach his highest potential as a human being. :-)