During the years when we’ve had some memory work (poems, bible verses), I find that the kids remember their other work (math facts, history stories, science definitions) better than in the years where I’ve slacked off. (Here is a free compilation of memory work for the grammar stage (roughly 1st – 5th grade) if you want some ideas.)
Do you still remember sayings/slogans you heard on the radio or TV when you were little? (Previous links were for “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” and “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” How about Wendy’s “Parts is parts” or “Where’s the beef?“) Can you still remember songs from your favorite TV shows from way back when? (I can remember everything from the A-Team to Jem to Greatest American Hero.) When you are young, your brain just soaks up all sorts of information. My job is to put USEFUL information into those brain-sponges so they aren’t just drinking in the words to Spongebob’s theme song.
This year, dd#2 & dd#3 are memorizing poems as part of our grammar program (First Language Lessons 1 & 2) and science (Elemental Science’s Lapbooking through Biology) – although we are using someone else’s poems (scroll down to “Science” & click on “Poems for Elemental Science” – although I rewrote some of hers, too). They will be memorizing catechism questions as part of their religion studies. And, of course, there is on-going phonogram & spelling rule memorization as part of Spell to Write and Read.
DD#1 is memorizing quite a bit for science (Elemental Science’s Biology for the Logic Stage). This unit, for example, she’s memorizing the Divisions of Life (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species) and the Five Kingdoms (Monerans, Protists, Fungi, Plants, and Animals) + their basic characteristics. She’s continuing her study of Spanish, so she’ll have to remember quite a bit of vocabulary and verb-endings. This year’s Latin is review, so she just has to keep in her head all the conjugations & vocabulary from the past two years of her Latin studies! She will have to remember the location of many bodies of water and the names of several countries/empires in Europe and Asia as part of her mapwork in history (for my quizzes!). She is also memorizing catechism questions for her religion studies, but I don’t have any poems on her list for this year. On her own, she just finished memorizing “If” by Rudyard Kipling, so she is capable of keeping quite a bit in her head at once! If I can get her interested in another long poem, I’ll definitely put it down. At her age, however, I like that she picks out the piece because it keeps her motivated.
The brain is a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, it’ll get flabby.
[Here is an article about a study done in 2007 on just teaching the concept that the brain is a muscle. Here is commentary on another study done in 2009 on how much exercising your brain can improve your IQ scores.]