Fostering Childrens Memory Development

Memory develops largely through social interaction, and consequently parents and teachers play a critical role in assisting children in developing good memories. During early childhood, everyday adult-child interactions provide the basis for memory development by fostering language development and helping children acquire scripts for common events. Conversations that include reminiscing about the recent past are significant in helping children understand what memory is and what should be remembered. Developing family traditions and participating in rituals encourage reminiscing.

When a child begins formal schooling, adults can contribute to the child's acquisition of metamemory and memory strategies by modeling their own approaches to tasks involving memory and discussing their memory failures. It is important that teachers and parents recognize that strategies develop over an extended period. Children's use of effective memory strategies in studying should be monitored, and adults should help children simplify tasks by providing external memory aids and other supports as needed. Informal instruction in the use of memory strategies should be incorporated into class presentations and assignments.

It is also important to keep in mind that memory is facilitated by advances in other domains of development. As examples, narrative skills increase children's abilities to provide reports of their personal experience; problem-solving techniques increase functional working memory capacity. The development of the knowledge base plays a vital role in memory performance. Hence, providing children with opportunities to learn about the world contributes significantly to their capacity to remember effectively.

See also: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT; LEARNING

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