"Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky..."

I bet a lot of you read that with the tune in your mind! As a matter of fact, I'm quite sure the song alone has brought so many memories of when you were really little to you: all the rhymes you learnt in Nursery and primary school, the excitement of singing them and all the memories that come with them. This is completely normal and the interesting thing is that the time difference between when you first learnt them and now is overwhelming!

Well, they are nursery rhymes and you still remember them, but come to think of it, do you remember -vividly - how to define many of the terms you learnt 5 months ago? 2 months ago? Last week? It's very hard for most people to reply all the above questions positively, despite the fact that the time difference between when you learnt them and now is relatively small. This is perfectly normal as people tend to remember less things, at a time, as they grow up.

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will never depart from it". This is a popular maxim that explains, in clearer terms, that children are much more likely to remember and apply what they have learnt faster and better than adults. This is due to the fact that the brain of the child is relatively free and can be likened to a sponge (it can soak up as much information as possible, per time). Most experts who are concerned about the brain and education of children believe that children have more neurons actively creating new connections than adults do, so they can learn much more easily than adults can. Also, the brain of a child is very creative and free from stress. Adults, on the other hand, have a lot of things to think about, per time. Their brains are put to unnecessary stress and tension, thereby making it a herculean task to remember even the slightest of things -some people even forget their own birthdays!

As adults, in order to improve the way we remember things, it is pertinent that we apply some memory rules. Psychology Today lists 8 strategies for remembering:

1. Become interested in what you're learning. We're all better remembering what interests us. Few people, for example, have a difficult time remembering the names of people they find attractive. If you're not intrinsically interested in what you're learning or trying to remember, you must find a way to become so.

2. Find a way to leverage your visual memory. You'll be astounded by how much more this will enable you to remember. For example, imagine you're at a party and are introduced to five people in quick succession. How can you quickly memorize their names? Pick out a single defining visual characteristic of each person and connect it to a visual representation of their name, preferably through an action of some kind. Here's another example: How often do you forget where you left your keys, your notebook, or your wallet? The next time you put something down somewhere, pause a moment to notice where you've placed it, and then in your mind, blow it up. If you visualize the explosion in enough detail, you won't forget where you put it. Remember: Memory is predominantly visual.
3. Create a mental memory tree. If you're trying to memorize a large number of facts, find a way to relate them in your mind visually with a memory tree. Construct big branches first, then leaves. Branches and leaves should carry labels that are personally meaningful to you in some way, and the organization of the facts ("leaves") should be logical. It's been well recognized since the 1950's we remember "bits" of information better if we chunk them. For example, it's easier to remember 467890 as "467" and "890" than as six individual digits.

4. Associate what you're trying to learn with what you already know. It seems the more mental connections we have to a piece of information, the more successful we'll be in remembering it. This is why using mnemonics actually improves recall.

5. Write out the items to be memorized over and over and over. Writing out facts in lists improves recall if you make yourself learn the lists actively instead of passively. In other words, don't just copy the list of facts you're trying to learn but actively recall each item you wish to learn and then write it down again and again and again. In doing this, you are, in effect, teaching yourself what you're trying to learn—and as all teachers know, the best way to ensure you know something is to have to teach it. This method has the added benefit of immediately showing you exactly which facts haven't made it into your long-term memory so you can focus more attention on learning them rather than wasting time reinforcing facts you already know.

6. When reading for retention, summarize each paragraph in the margin. This requires you to think about what you're reading, recycle it, and teach it to yourself again. Even take the concepts you're learning and reason forward with them; apply them to imagined novel situations, which creates more neural connections to reinforce the memory.

7. Do most of your studying in the afternoon. Though you may identify yourself as a "morning person" or "evening person", at least one study suggests your ability to memorize isn't influenced as much by what time of day you perceive yourself to be most alert but by the time of day you actually study—afternoon appearing to be the best.

8. Get adequate sleep to consolidate and retain memories. Not just at night, after you've studied, but the day before you study as well. It is far better to do this than to stay up cramming all night for an exam.

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