Top Tips

Break memory tasks into simple steps, with straightforward instructions and then make sure that your child has mastered them before trying something more complicated.

Slow the game pace: If it’s tricky, allow your child time to process and finish their activity.

Write or draw clues: Encourage your child to write down verbal information or draw a picture of something that they need to remember.

Whether you plan to home educate your child or enter them into reception year, they’ll really benefit from memory skills – especially working memory, which is useful for a wide range of tasks from learning how to read, to following instructions.

Working memory is the ability to store information in your mind and use it later for further processing. It isn’t simply the short-term memory. Working memory is more about using verbal and visual information to remember the instructions or content, then carrying them out – for example your child’s ability to keep their place on a page when reading, doing mental maths and problem-solving.

“I Went to the Park”
When you’re next at a park, try this word list game when your children pause for a snack or flop down on the grass for a breather. Increase the challenge levels and complexity as the games continue.

Start off by saying what someone did e.g. “I went to the park and played on the swing.” Your child will add in something that they did on their turn e.g. “I went to the park and played on the swing and I went in the sandpit.” Continue in this way so that sentences become progressively longer.  You could make the game fictional for greater imagination, and throw in adjectives, for example “I went to the park and saw a fluffy red squirrel and a family playing with a golden frisbee.”

And if you’re going for a picnic or even doing pretend picnics at home, can your child name three or four items that they need to bring?

Match the Numbers
This is good for children who enjoy working visually and adds a hint of number investigation. Write down some numbers that your child knows, e.g. 2, 8, 9 & 14. With your child, try and think of as many animals or shapes that you can which resemble the numbers; for example, eight could be a rabbit, because it has the head and body plus you can draw on ears and tails. Nine could be an elephant as you can simply draw on ears and the tail of the nine is a trunk. Fourteen could be a yacht. Once you’re ready, hide the drawings and see who can recall the most numbers with their corresponding shapes.

Perfect Pairs
On several pieces of card, write down as many items as you and your child can think of, which go together, or which are talked about together. For example: fish and chips, knife and fork, hide and seek, soap and water, thunder and lightning, pen and paper, Grandma and Granddad.

Write down half of each pair on one piece of card and its pair on the other. Shuffle. Then ask your child (and friends) to pick a card. Ask them to remember the object’s pair. Can they complete the set?

Cunning Coins
Great for boosting visual memory!

Line up four paper cups and place a coin under one of them. Move the cups around into new positions as your child watches – where is the coin?

Set up a line of coins, starting with three. Place the coins in a random pattern of heads or tails up. Ask your child to study the order. Then remove the coins and ask them to arrange them in the same order. If you have two or more children, they could take turns testing each other.

Tantalising Tangrams
Tangrams teach children about spatial awareness & relationships.

Start by telling your child that tangrams are Chinese puzzles made from seven shapes (tans). The aim is to make squares, with: two large right triangles, two small right triangles, one medium sized, one small square and a parallelogram.

Try this one on nrich:

Happy Birthday Challenge
What good events or news happened on the day your child was born? Share some interesting stories with them – for example 21st June is World Giraffe Day (yearly), Prince William was born and it was the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Keep it as simple as you can. Can your child remember these facts a few hours later?

Skills Builder Listening Logo