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You want your children to remember what they learn, right? You’ve probably even hoped that they’d learn enough to succeed in life.
Maybe even change the world.
It’s a great aspiration. And an important one.
And yet …
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Here’s Why So Few Children Fail To Make A Mark As Grownups
Think about it. Every test your child will ever take relies on memory. And every gatekeeper your child will ever pass on the way to fulfilling their dreams hinges on the ability to recall details. Thoroughly and accurately.
And since we know that the ability to succeed has everything to do with what you know (and who you remember that you know), the question is …
How do you get your children started towards a superior memory so that they can succeed?
I’m glad you asked because you’re about to find out.
The Simple Way To Use Rhymes And Your Family Home To Learn, Memorize And Recall Anything
The best memory techniques all use buildings and other fixed locations. Why? Because the human mind has the unusual ability to remember the layout out buildings. For this reason, location-based mnemonics has lasted thousands of years.
Go ahead and try it. Have everyone in your family draw a map of your home. You’ll be amazed by the accuracy each of you brings to the game.
Here’s an image of a simple drawing from a young person who did precisely this activity to give you ideas and inspire you. She took the layout of her home from the drawing stage to rebuilding this floor plan in her mind so she could memorize a poem.
The Special Structure Anyone Can Use To Learn, Memorize
And Recall Anything
Anyone of any age can build one and use it to memorize anything.
But please don’t use Memory Palaces to memorize any old thing. The trick is to use these wonderful mental structures for memorizing important information.
Not just any information. I’m talking about the kind of information that makes a direct impact on the quality of your child’s life. In the present and the future.
So location is the first power of memory. The second power of memory is association.
To use this power, you associate information with a location. And to make the information really magnetic, you create crazy images that makes it easier to recall. Usually these images will come from visual sources you already know, such as movies, paintings, famous figures and the like. You can also turbocharge the images you create by using stock images placed in the Memory Palace.
Here’s An Easy Way To See
The Second Power Of Memory In Action
Imagine that your house has five rooms. Kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom and playroom. You’ve already drawn them out and can walk in your imagination from room to room. And your child can do this too.
Next, use the following rhymes to place an imaginary object in each room.
1 is a bun
2 is a shoe
3 is a bee
4 is a door
5 is a hive
You don’t have to use these rhymes. It’s great fun to come up with your own as a family activity. But these are standard and you can find a full list of these mnemonic examples and a full explanation of this mnemonic peg system here.
But keep in mind that we’re going to take things one step further than rhyming. We’re going to combine this technique with a familiar building like your home.
Now pretend that your son or daughter needs to learn the names of the first five vertical entries on the Periodic Table of Elements. The following suggestions are examples only. The method will work best when young people come up with the images on their own.
Hydrogen goes in the first room. They see a bun saying “Hi” to a drone reading Genesis.
In the second room, they see a shoe with a huge L on it. It’s drinking tea and saying “um.” Lithium,
The third room has a bee. He’s also saying “um” while drinking soda. Sodium.
The fourth room has an enormous potato with a door from which donkeys are entering the room with small potatoes in their mouths. Potassium.
In the fifth room, we have rubidium. Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz is knocking on the hive.
You can help everyone in your family use this location and rhyme-based memory technique to learn and memorize anything. From facts and mathematical figures to foreign language vocabulary and artifacts from Ancient Egypt. Being able to recall these in a snap make a huge difference for kids in school. And bilingualism is very health for young brains.
The Minimalist Guide To Making
Memory Improvement A Family Event
If your young person is struggling to learn, retain and reproduce information, here’s how you can help. If you’ve already used your home as a Memory Palace, visit a relative or friend. Make a Memory Palace based on their home. You can literally walk the journey between the actual rooms with them, encouraging them to come up with the memorable images on their own.
You can also use a walk through a simple park, a movie theater, a church or a library. But please do start with simple structures before introducing anything more complex. Mastering simple buildings makes mastering multi-detailed environments much easier.
Teach Your Kids How To Paint Like
Picasso In Their Minds
If your child struggles with creating images to associate information with, help them to become more visual by looking at art together. If you can visit art galleries, all the better. These buildings can become Memory Palaces too.
You can also help your children become more visual by encouraging drawing more than just Memory Palaces. Characters from movies they’ve enjoyed and especially representations of people from books they’ve read about but never seen work well. They will get the visual imagination flowing.
It’s also useful to look at an image and then have your child “remake” the image in their imagination. Seeing in the mind is a skill you can develop over time and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Mentally “copying” the great masters is perfectly fine. Great and original artists do it all the time.
Use World Class Examples To Inspire Your Child To Memorize
One way to make these memory skills more interesting to young people is to tell them the story of their origin in Ancient Greece. Simonides of Ceos was giving a speech at a banquet when the building collapsed. Because he had memorized where everyone was using the location principle, he could help families identify their loved ones.
The Simonides story also perfectly demonstrates the principles of exaggerated imagery along with location. The vibrant image of a building collapsing is just of the reasons the story has lasted the centuries. The image is as hard to forget as is the promise of near-miraculous memory ability.
Your kids will also find Matteo Ricci‘s life as an international mnemonist inspiring. He sailed from Italy to China and could memorize books forwards and backward. His life included a great deal of drama and even tragedy.
You can also share with them the stories of how ordinary people have learned memory techniques and used them to accomplish extraordinary feats. Read Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein for a particularly compelling story to pass on.
You can also listen to the Magnetic Memory Method interviews with Dave Farrow, Mark Channon and Alex Mullen for many inspiring stories of ordinary people learning memory techniques and accomplishing great things for themselves and others. Nelson Dellis, for example, has done a lot for Alzheimer’s research and you can contribute to it by taking his Extreme Memory Challenge.
Show All Children The True Path To Memory Mastery
With One Simple Tool
We double what we’ve learned every time we teach. Teaching is the simplest tool for learning something better ever invented. All you need to do is learn something and then share what you’ve learned. Merely by doing this you will have learned it better yourself. It’s also great memory exercise.
Encourage your child to share what they’ve learned with others so that they absorb the skills with greater depth. Teaching others also follows the principle of contribution. Your child feels like she or he has given something great and also made the world a better place. Reciprocity will be a natural result.
You can also ask your child to teach you what they’ve learned directly from their memory. Ask them to “decode” the images they’ve created without revealing them. Focus on the core information first and then share the weird images if you wish.
At the end of the day, these images are nothing more than training wheels on a bike. They prompt or trigger the target information. But it’s the memorized information they should reproduce first.
Having your child repeat what they’ve memorized at home also gives them practice in a low-stress environment. (Your home is low-stress, isn’t it?) That way, when the time to take a test arrives, they can access those comfortable feelings about memory created at home. This certainty will help them cope with the pressure of performance at school. Imagination and memory abilities soar much higher when we’re relaxed.
Are Memory Techniques The Ultimate Learning Solution?
Yes and no. Memory techniques are a supplement to how schools teach, not a replacement. Some kids take to it more than others and for some, taking pleasure in the technique is necessary. But if the images are sufficiently funny and fascinating, it’s hard to imagine the Magnetic Memory Method as boring.
As a final tip, avoid perfection. Just have fun with the art of memory and let go of the outcome. At its core, all we’re doing is looking at information that needs to be learned and retained in a new and likely more interesting way.
But it’s important not to associate this technique with the same pain and frustration given to rote learning. Your child will always be learning the information, but if something truly won’t stick, move on and come back to it. You increase the pleasure and chances of success by not forcing it.
And if you as a parent would like more information about using Memory Palaces to learn and memorize information that can make a positive difference in your life, I’ve got a Free Memory Improvement kit for you. It comes with four free videos and will teach you everything you need to know about improving the memory of everyone in your family.
So what do you say? Are you ready to start changing the world? All it takes is teaching memory skills to one young mind at a time.
Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.
>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.
Tap The Mind Of A Ten Year Old Memory Palace Master
Yes, yes and yes! 🙂
Check out my TED talk on this very thing.
Anthony has been super helpful on this. My kids make people’s jaws drop with what they’ve memorised!
That’s so great to hear, Kevin. Thanks too for posting the link to your video! 🙂
Great post Anthony, our daughter has major problems remembering things like tables etc. I tried your Memory Palaces technique with her and actually was very surprised at a) how much she engaged with the process and more importantly how much she could remember. It was a 12 station walk round our home to learn her 8 times table.
This was about 6 months ago and she still remembers the associations and stories that go with the numbers. More importantly she remembers that table and has actually found that it helped with division sums because she could decode in any order or direction. It is quite a lot of work to get started but I would say it is well worth it!
Fantastic to learn about this, Martin! It’s true that there’s some work upfront with memory techniques, but that’s true of most skills worth developing.
Send my hearty congratulations to your daughter and many wishes for a powerful memory throughout her future. We can all deliberately turn new buildings we enter into Memory Palaces, but young people are especially advantaged when they take up this technique. They can consciously make each new location they visit a memory asset that will serve for life. Talk about learning the value of Real Estate at a young age, indeed. 🙂
I’ve purchased a couple of your courses and will soon purchase the master class. Thanks for all of the excellent work you have done on memory.
I am a professor and I’m trying to help college students learn and memorize. I have two questions related to this podcast.
1) We have a modern college structure where many of the classrooms are identical. Can we still use it as a memory palace?
2) How important is reading to memory and learning? Most college students these days do not want to read the textbooks and some topics (like accounting) have dry textbooks.
Thanks for your kind words and questions, Ola!
Buildings with identical rooms can pose a challenge, but not necessarily. There are several options:
First, you can associate each room with an instructor who teaches in it or a particular subject. If this is an option, it can work very well. For example, when I use the class where I studied World Religions in Grade 12, it’s almost identical to every other classroom in the school, but it’s associated with a particular teacher and a particular subject. Likewise, in my first year of college, Political Science was in a particular classroom very similar to Sociology and English Literature. But the mere association with the presence of those topics and the instructors makes them entirely unique.
Second, depending on the layout of the college, you can choose to use only certain classrooms strategically and filter out those that either create confusion or otherwise don’t serve. So if there are, say, 10 rooms along a corridor that can’t be managed, you can just use three: the ones at either ends of the corridor and one approximately halfway. I use this strategy to maximize the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin. It has very long corridors with dozens of rooms, but by limiting them to just three per side, there’s no trouble using them. In this Memory Palace, I haven’t been in the rooms I’m using, so I just treat them as if they are identical to those I have entered. By reducing the elements to just the four corners and both sides of the double desks most rooms have, this sprawling structure works great.
About reading being important to memory and learning, I think reading is the most important thing in the world. After all, those who understand the law are the same who get to write and maintain it.
That said, I’m not sure what to do about people who aren’t excited about reading. In some ways, when we say things like “these days,” I think we are romanticizing the past. Was there ever a vibrant mass of people who loved reading or do we just have more people going to school because it has become more conventional to do so?
As for texts being “dry,” I have a podcast episode on How To Memorize A Textbook that might help.
In reality, I don’t think any information is dry. It’s only the spirit engaging the text that has issues. If you’re interested in a topic, it’s in line with your passions and you’re properly motivated, there’s no reason why even the most boring textbook in the world can’t be exciting and rewarding. For example, I read dense dissertations on memory with a lot of technical data often, information that I could choose to label dry and boring, but I associate with my passion and create a state of excitement and just pile through it. Using the memory techniques and being in a spirit of “hunting for diamonds” makes it a wonderful adventure.
Thanks again for posting today. Let me know if you have any more questions and I hope to correspond again soon! 🙂
Hi Anthony, I am listening to your video about kids at the moment and can offer some insights!
I have three kids and am teaching them all memory palaces in different and perhaps creative ways:
Some of the activities we have done include:
Memory Palaces with a 10 year old.
My now 11 year old son last year learnt how to use palaces SO fast it was ridiculous – I was explaining to him how it worked, and he fast-forwarded ahead of me and had it, just like that. On the way home from school in the car, he would memorise the weeks spelling list on a body palace and then we could practise the words without needing to reference his book! “What are your words? How do you spell them? Say them forwards, backwards, leap-frog them..” Interestingly, just doing this he would seem to have the spelling sorted, ‘seeing’ the spelling at the location.
Other times, we’d put a clue to the spelling in the spot to emphasise it if needed.
He once demonstrated Memory Palaces to his class in Show and Tell by recounting the previous three week’s worth of words easily. (He was in Grade 4) A very functional use of memory palaces. We’d use several palaces, but he preferred to return to his body palace as it was with him at all times and he could touch the part and recall the word. He’d use the topic of the words as a trigger to keep the palaces separate in his mind. For example there was a ‘Colours’ list of words one week – with aquamarine, beige, cerise, khaki etc as unusual colours to learn how to spell. Great fun, can still recall it.
Another memory practise activity at home we’d do was using a pack of animal cards, we’d place them around the room at various stations. Then we’d physically walk to each station, I’d give a suggestion for how I might associate the imagery with the station, and ask what he’d do. He would invariably have something MORE creative and visual than mine (and I am an art teacher and consider myself quite flexibly visually creative..).
Then we’d walk it again and re-visit the images, describing them out loud. I’d ask him some more prompting questions to enhance the image – “What size? What colour? What noises? What smells? What actions” (Whatever seemed suitable. We’d build on it together, aim to have a laugh about it too, as that enhances memory. And, have you heard of the concept of using dis-fluency? Using non-words such as “umm” and “err” before the key idea draws attention that the information will be important – I use it quite often to get my kids attention, and when developing images and associations for memory palaces.)
Next, we would walk the stations with his back to them, myself providing a partial verbal prompt if needed (seldom was with him). Then we’d go from station to station in reverse order. Then we’d ‘peek’ at the station from an entry to the room, pointing to the location (without looking at the visual). Last of all, we’d practise them at bedtimes, or with the stack of cards in order in our hands, and then over time. We actually only needed to do this a few times before it bored him it was so easy for him.
These skills were an easy way for him to quickly develop his skills – faster than myself! We’d discard these paths relatively quickly, though as I type this I’m pretty sure I could recall several of them even a year later.
Memory Palaces with a Child with Special Needs.
With my second son, he has special needs. He is 7 and has a disorder (ASD) that meant he did not get language organically – we have taught it to him through ABA therapy. He is now amazingly talkative – he NEVER stops in fact! His strength is that he is extremely creative and has a great imagination. I know memory palace skills will be of EXTREME benefit to him in life. I have had to get wildly creative, and am exploring many sorts of memory palace techniques with him.
Here’s some tips I can share.
One of the early palaces I did with him was to help him learn the order of the Solar System. Kids love the space topic!
What I did was:
Walked from station to station basically providing him with the imagery, asking him to look at the spot and “imagine this tennis ball is on fire, black and burning and is Mercury, closest to the sun and burning up the chair it is on!” (The door was the Sun, and on fire! We were recoiling from the heat…)
Next was Venus, a giant Venus Flytrap on the table snapping at us reminding us of Venus. So, sometimes I used a concrete example, like the tennis ball.
And it went on. I’d ask him to describe back to me what he sees in his mind, and elaborated on his visions of it as I prompted with ways to make it bigger, brighter, with temperature, action etc as you suggest. Lots of fun. Then, as with my older son, we’d walk from station to station, recalling and building on the images, then walk them faster, or backwards. Then I’d get him to test me on them, hesitating so he could give me the answers, or making errors that he could correct.
Another technique I added in was doing drawings of the stations with the planets overlaid so we could look at them, recall the actual stations and provide another level of memory prompting to them. This was done over a number of sessions I might add! We’d practice them lying in bed as a sleeping aid (we still run through the same palace adding information to knock him out at night). We’d take turns leap-frogging the planets forwards and backwards.
Now, a year later, he recalls them with ease, and we are adding more details to the palace – the moons, other facts of interest. At the moment I am experimenting with transferring the information onto a string of beads with him that we can carry around and add to.
Other palaces are temporary ones for particular programs – We developed a ‘picture’ of prickly things that he would walk though, seeing crazy associations, and use the walls of his room for aircraft. I put pictures up for these as triggers. Lots of fun experimenting with what works for him. For another palace I recorded him telling me about each station as he played up to the camera – another technique that was helpful! We made a ‘lukasa board’ for one of his palaces (out of cardboard), and that aid has him reciting it in less than ten seconds! (I am very inspired by Lynne Kelly’s book “The Memory Code – blows my mind – we are experimenting with a lot of the ancient types of memory spaces she has studied and used herself)
Our current project is a functional one – he is learning to write sentences at the moment at school and in his at-home program. We are developing together his “Silly Sentence Starters Palace”, ten sentence starters that he can have in his mind’s eye when writing. I picked out 10 from my list of 25, and I put them in order alphabetically, and chose a simple path around the house, one or two stations to a room. I have big A4 visuals of each starter at each location.
Again, I drafted a few vague ideas to get him started, and we went from room to room, station to station building the ‘story’ at each location, and gave him an M&M for each one, (highly motivating for him!) while I wrote down his version of the station, again with prompts to get it memorable (I should say, magnetic!), and to re-direct when he went off on a tangent, or wanted to use the same imagery or character at similar locations, which could become confusing.Then we’d walk it again, emphasising the FIRST word of the ‘story’, which was the starter, or perhaps the trigger clue. We have a map of the palace with arrows that we’d use to recall the sentence starters. He got it rather quickly…
After – “After Darth Vader died he become a green ghost” – Said ghost floating in the room breathing through his face-plate.
First – “The First Order” – (He has Kylo Ren on his bed covers) – “Kylo Ren is a night of the First Order (and he is a bastard!)” Gotta have a bit of rudeness in there, LOL!
Last – “Last night I hit Maven with a pillow ten times” (They have pillow fights many times at night when presumably in bed going to sleep!)
… and on they go. We’d re-visit the ‘scenes’ and build them up a bit. By the next day I could partially prompt him though the whole palace.
Mind-blowing stuff, and this from a child with a disability! How many more children with similar conditions could benefit from these skills? Children who have writing issues, who can’t write for long, or well, but could mentally learn and learn and learn? He writes very well thanks to his program, and having these new skills will, I am sure be of benefit when he gets anxious about what to write about in school – he’s got a palace right there that we can add to by including additional sentence starters within the ten stations he has now.
My three year old? I have a ‘song line’ of 20+ nursery rhymes that I sing with and to her whenever I wish. I could always only ever remember a couple when pressed, even though I know so many really – putting them in a palace makes them so accessible.
I have a series of “kid jokes” in a palace walking around the back yard that will be my next project with the kids – having 20-30 jokes on tap that are cringe-worthy for a laugh. “Why did the cookie go to the Doctor? – He felt crummy!” “What do you call a bear with no teeth? – A Gummy Bear!” and they get worse (or better?) from there….
I am loving adapting these techniques to their needs, playing around and seeing what happens next.
– Charndra (in Australia)
This is a brilliant description, Charndra. I’m very grateful you took the time to put it together and share it with us!
It’s interesting that your 11 year old likes the body Memory Palace so much. I wonder if kids in general might prefer that because of the tactile linking options literally at their fingertips.
I love the idea of sentence starters as well. It’s wonderful to hear that it is helping your 7 year old. I envision a very bright future as you continue sharing these skills. He’ll no doubt be a great writer one day. Just wait and see!
It’s also great that you’re using Memory Palaces yourself to store songs and jokes. As a model of these techniques, you can share them and discuss them with your kids as they grow up and influence other parents you meet. Let’s band together to find more parents like yourself and accelerate the speed of sharing these skills with young people around the world! 🙂
Great to hear that Memory technique can help people to retain what they have studied.
I think cramming is not the way to go, and neither is staying up late to read and these techniques will help students excel in school.
Moreover, they are also useful in other extra-curricular activities like quizzes, games, puzzles etc. As a parent, I’ll definitely teach my kids about this and share above tips to memorized learning.
Thanks kindly for your post, David, an thanks for sharing this one around!