Friday, September 29, 2017

Random thoughts: Improving memory of your kids

Exams is around the corner.

I realise I share so much on investing but never on learning. So here goes. I was told my earlier post on education/ tuition create a storm at investing note. My apologies, I didn't read what is written there, I share what I know, u need not agree with me

The theory:
Memory is about input, working memory, retention and retrieval. To do well, all 4 links need to addressed. Just doing assessment after assessment without input is useless. Also, if u put your clothes is drawer 1, it is most easily retrieve in drawer 1. Our brain is powerful, it can be transferred and hence if you internalized what you learn, it became cloud, and u can retrieve it anywhere. But, the crux of it is, you need to know at which level is your child is, and hit it at the right spot. 

Area of concerns and assumptions:
1) My passion is always with the weakest pupils, so what I am sharing here is for those who fail their writing.

1) Framework. 

You need to know the compo is made up of Intro, body and ending. I understand many (i.e including tuition centers) spent  significant Amount of time is on mermorizing 回忆開頭,天氣開頭,and 人物開頭。But Personally, for me, I believe Intro doesn't yield marks. For my weak pupils I give it a miss. I think ending is more important. There are 2 parts to a ending. 

My last paragraph is call FATS.

Easy to remember. 

F for feeling 
A for analysis 
T for talk 
S for swear

"Bad ending" example.

我难过地说:“对不起,小丽,我错了。我不是故意的,你原谅我好吗?” T


It seems simple, but trust me. It's not easy, for the weakest pupil to apply FATS

Remembering FATS is easy. The lines and the actual words  are the tough part.

S can be mermorize wholesale. Just understand the exceptions where it cannot be used. (Third person perspective of someone else in the wrong, etc)

Input stage.

1) Chunking and repetition.

After they understand what the sentence means, 

Read aloud in this way,


If u are helping your son/ daughter. Cover different parts gradually with your hand, and challenge your kid to continue reading until everything is covered.

Cover everything, recall. Note that it is ok to not remember it. Please don't scold the poor kids. Those weaker pupils are miserable enough. Just ask them to skip and recall whatever they know. 

Now, ask them to look at the paragraph and identify the missing parts.

Recall again.

If still can't. Identify what is missing again.

In my experince, no matter how weak the pupils are, as long as they do it seriously, they will remember it by the second round.

Sound too good to be true? Well, we are just at input, we didn't go into rentention and also the writing of the words.


Simple, 2 rules. Humor and frequency.

Doing it everyday for 1-2 min is more effective than squeezing 2 hours before the exam.

Every time the pupils/ son try to recall, play with them.  Mermorize with them. Impress them with your memory power. If u fumbled, laugh with them.

As for difficult words like "覆辙”, break it into smaller words. 

Give a nonsensical story. The more rubbish it is, the better they remember it. Ask what the top look like? Look like 要,tell them girls 女never make mistakes, so you can remove it. But 复 means repeat. Weaker pupils catch no balls, but tell them nontheless. Tell them sun 日 is wearing a cap and a loose skirt. Bad mistake, cap surely get burnt. That's why is a mistake. 

U go get creative and say your nonsensical story. You can even draw the cap and the sarong skirt. 

Those who tried to learn, despite being the weakest lot of the whole level, can remember how to write the 4 words. 

Of course, rule of freq apply too. Everyday must practice writing these words. 

Wow! It's that easy? Hello. There is retrieval 


A different picture means they forget what to write. So dun give them 1 picture. Give them a dozen pictures and ask them to choose 1 that can apply that particular ending.

The next day, ask them to choose another picture.

Put to them the subtle change of words in the FATs paragraph.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is just the last paragraph. 

I will post about the rest, the main body. What framework and tricks to help them remember.


"Practice doesn't make perfect; it made permanent" (David Souza)

Dun ask them to write compo after compo without knowing what exactly to write. They hate it and it became a vicious cycle.


  1. Cool!
    Enjoy reading your posts on teaching. :)
    Really miss the good old days whereby we can share and exchange thoughts freely on teaching. I could not forget how amazed I was when you first challenged me with your new perspectives and ideas. Never ever before I was so motivated to find out more every time after talking to you. I remembered I really googled, read and tried out in class, then looking forward to clear my doubts and share with you again after lessons. Really thanks.

    1. Lol. KW

      Thanks. Now no more ideas le.

      I like the exchange of ideas too! They are old ideas from books actually. Now is how to navigate what is learn to apply what is in class, due to time and expectation constrains.

      I just want to continue be happy and excited going into classrooms, which is not easy

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  3. i am bad at coaching my kids, though i did pretty well in my studies when i was young
    sigh...have to rely on learning lab to coach them

    1. Yoland,

      You are right. There are several renowned centers. Learning lab, berries. Tian xia. Kumon etc.

      Then there are boutique star tutors LOL

      I once then harbor intentions of becoming a tutor

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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