This year, we’ve added memory work to our daily homeschool schedule. I thought we would like it, or else I never would have added it to our schedule, but I had no idea just how much we would LOVE IT!
We’ve memorized things in the past, but this is the first time we are deliberately memorizing large chunks of sequential information. To help us with this endeavor, we purchased a curriculum, which I absolutely LOVE. It meets so many of the goals I have, especially in terms of educating my kids with a “big picture view” of history and the world. One of the components of our curriculum is a timeline. It contains 144 events beginning with ancient civilization and continuing through modern times. Fostering a big picture view of history and the world was one of the driving forces that motivated me to educate my children at home. The timeline we are memorizing offers the skeleton of our “big picture view.”
Curriculum aside, I have very quickly become a huge fan of memory work in general. Here’s why:
Memory work builds confidence in my little learners. My boys are so proud of themselves when they master something new. They’ve even started a video series over on our family blog to show off what they’ve been learning.
Memory work provides instant gratification and, thus, immediately reinforces that learning is valuable. Usually, I actively work to train my kids that instant gratification is not what provides the most happiness or benefit in life. However, when dealing with something intangible (and, perhaps, invaluable to busy kids) like “education,” it’s nice to receive an instant reward. That instant reward motivates the kids to keep moving forward in their educational journey.
They know what they learned today. When my kids are asked what they learned today, they actually have an answer. In years past, it didn’t matter how engaged my kids were in our daily lessons. When Josh asked, “What did you learn today?” the most common responses were, “I don’t know.” or “Nothing.” That drove me nuts! It made me feel like I had completely wasted my time all day. I know that’s not true. And, when the kids were prodded, they would eventually produce and answer. But, now, they immediately have a response. That makes me feel good and it reinforces in their minds that they really are learning.
To show off to skeptical family members. This may be petty, but I really like that the kids love to recite their memory work. It has silenced many of our family members that were vocally opposed to our choice to homeschool.
Memory work builds on the natural strengths and abilities of young children. Children are sponges. They inadvertently memorize all kinds of crap while they are young. It’s how they are wired. It takes little to no effort for them to memorize a lot of nonsense. We’re simply choosing to use that power for good.
Memory work provides a solid foundation for future learning. I know some people use memory work in isolation, so to speak. They have their kids memorize and memorize and memorize, without providing any context or supporting details. I think a case can be made for this type of education, but it’s not the way I choose to use memory work. As we’re memorizing, we follow whatever rabbit trail the kids want to take. If they’re interested in learning more, we learn more. BUT, whether or not they are interested in a particular topic today, one day, they will have to learn more about these things. We humans learn by forming associations in our brains between things we already know and things that are new to us. Because so many topics will already be familiar to my kids, they will be able to tackle future lessons more quickly and in more depth than if they were being presented with the information for the first time. For example, last week in science, my kids were memorizing the 9 major phyla of the animal kingdom. We watched some videos to supplement this, but, overall, they just learned the information and moved on. When they are older and start learning more advanced biology, they will already have a great framework to build on and fill out. It will make future learning easier and allow them to explore the topic more deeply than if they were being exposed to the material for the first time.
The final reason that I have fallen in love with memory work is: The kids really like it. Certainly, this is not the basis of all my decisions when it comes to raising and educating my kids, but it’s a huge help. They love it, so they are excited about it, and they want to do it. There is no battle to get them to work and learn. Memory work is the goal toward which we work every day. When our morning bookwork becomes tedious, I remind the kids, “We need to hurry up and finish this, so we can move on to memory work.” It gives them the motivation to keep moving forward.
Just for the fun of it ~ since it’s Friday and I just happened to have 7 reasons I love memory work ~ I thought I’d link up with everyone else over at 7 Quick Takes Friday. Have a great day!