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30 Days to Better Grades: Day 27 – Mnemonics & Chunking

Better Grades - Mnemonics & Chunking

No matter how hard a student studies, some concepts are so abstract that they can be difficult to grasp. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be learned. The learner just has to find a way to anchor them to something he or she understands.

Mnemonics (pronounced ni-MON-iks) are learning devices that use patterns to assist in learning. Think of how you learned the names of the planets in order. Did you learn “My very elegant mother just sent us nine pies?” Or did you ever learn to think that “George Eddy’s old grandma rode a pig home yesterday” to remember how to spell “geography”? What about “Let a nice girl use a good eraser” to remember how to spell “language?” If so, you used mnemonics. Mnemonics is simply looking at a list of disparate items and finding a way to connect them. And honestly, the sillier and more bizarre the connection, the more apt you are to remember it.

Traditional spelling programs haven’t quite caught up to brain research. A twenty to twenty-five word spelling list should be broken down over the course of a week so that your child focuses on five to seven words each night. Expecting your child to learn the entire list at once is too overwhelming.
Chunking is similar. Chunking involves dividing large amounts of information into more manageable pieces. You use chunking on a regular basis but probably don’t realize it. Phone numbers are chunked into area code, prefix, and line number. Social Security numbers are chunked into area numbers, group numbers, and serial numbers. You may even chunk your grocery list if you arrange it according to where the items are located in the store. Information is best chunked in groups consisting of five to seven items. More items make chunking less effective.

The human brain naturally looks for shortcuts and patterns to help it manage information. Using mnemonics and chunking as a learning device aids the brain by creating a system that it already understands. Help your child create mnemonic devices to remember difficult information, and find ways to chunk information into smaller groups. Doing so will increase academic performance and enhance memory.

Today’s Tip

Use mnemonic devices and chunking to help remember long, difficult, or complex bits of information.


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