Did you know that babies start learning before birth? That means their memory is working, on a basic level, very early on, allowing them to remember things like sounds, tastes, and language. Memory is a fascinating thing, especially in little brains that absorb the world around them every moment.
As you might know, learning starts with remembering, so that the brain can keep building upon what it already knows. Memory activities keep your toddler’s brain on its toes, so to speak. They’re like exercise for the mind!
What Do Memory Activities Do for Toddlers?
Memory activities – like matching pictures, playing a “repeat after me” game, or imitating patterns – put your toddler’s brain to work! The skills your little one learns through memory-focused activities lays the groundwork for future skills in reading, math, and more.
Here are the developmental areas your toddler works on during memory activities:
Working memory. Working memory allows us to hold information in our minds long enough to use it. When we’re having a conversation, for example, we remember what the person is saying so that when it’s our turn to talk we can respond in context. Toddlers build working memory skills when they watch you do something and attempt to replicate it, or say “3” after you say “1, 2, …”. Working memory is central to tasks like following directions, completing math problems, and remembering the steps it takes to write the letters of the alphabet.
Critical thinking and problem-solving. Toddlers gain a better ability to retain information the more they use their memory. This, in turn, helps them think outside-the-box and solve problems. Toddlers will continue building on what they know as they get older, learn new things, and keep experimenting – but it all starts with using what they remember.
Visual perception. Memorizing is a building block of reading. Your toddler will first remember the shapes of letters to distinguish one from another. Eventually, this will lead to memorizing the letters that form sight words. Memory activities target visual perception skills that allow toddlers to decipher differences between objects they see, and remember that information for future use.
Cognitive skills. There are many cognitive skills your little one will work on as they strengthen their memory. Attention skills is one of the most important. Toddlers place their attention on the task at hand, which allows them to remember that information. Their memory also relies heavily on attention skills to help them use that information when needed.
Other cognitive skills linked to memory activities are spatial reasoning, planning, and other executive function skills that are central to math readiness, reading, writing, self-care, and more.
There are so many ways to have fun with your toddler while targeting their memory skills – and you don’t even need fancy toys or games to do it! Our BabySparks program has plenty of ideas using simple toys and everyday household items, targeted for each developmental stage up to age 3.