BrainSTARS: Memory

Jeanne E. Dise-Lewis, PhD, Margaret Lohr Calvery, PhD, and Hal C. Lewis, PhD, BrainSTARS
To help children develop better memory skills after TBI,

To develop better memory skills you must teach a child how to pay careful focused attention and how to engage actively in thinking about what he is learning.

Use everyday activities

1. Establish regular locations for essential items. Key, wallet, shoes, backpack etc. should always be stored in the same location. Practice a daily routine for putting items away that is initially supervised and then can be completed with greater independence.

2. To remember recent events, have your child repeat out loud what just happened.

3. To remember important information, the following may be helpful:

  • repeat out loud the main points
  • make up rhymes, acronyms, or letter associations
  • relate the new information to something familiar
  • relate the information to a personal experience

4. When asking your child to recall information, remind him of the situation in which the information was first learned.

5. Repeat back a short statement of the relevant information. For example, “Okay, so you said we are going at 8:00?  And that is on Tuesday, right?” Repeating the most important information allows your student to “tag” this information for his memory and also assures the other person in the conversation that he did in fact pick out and note the important information.

Change the environment:

1. Focus your student’s attention on specific information: “I’m going to read a story and ask WHO is in the story.”

2. Underline or highlight key words in a passage for emphasis and to help with recall.

3. Include pictures or visual cues with verbal information.

4. Provide a daily contact person to review your student’s schedule, materials needed, and assignments, both before and after school.

5. Use a “back-and-forth” notebook to convey necessary information to teachers, and parents, which your child may forget.

6. Provide your student with two folders, one for work to TAKE TO SCHOOL, and one for materials to TAKE HOME.  Review each folder with your student both at home and at school, daily.

7. Use calendars, schedules and a logbook to record assignments or daily events.

8. Provide a printed or pictured schedule of daily activities, locations, and materials needed for each class or activity.

9. Use aids such as:

  • responsibility chart
  • list
  • timer
  • alarm watch
  • tape recorder,
  • calculator
  • spell checker

10. Teachers should provide a schedule of tests, reports, and assignments to parents several weeks prior to due dates.

11. It is going to be difficult for your child to demonstrate all that he knows about a topic on tests that rely on free recall of information. It will be more helpful to allow him to use aids such as a vocabulary list, open book and open notes test formats, and test questions in a multiple choice or matching format.

12. It is easier to remember information if the student has some familiarity with the general content. Inform parents about upcoming content across classes so that they are able to provide background and activities at home that relate to the topic.

Teach new skills:

1. The current set of recommendations addresses the later stage, please review the attention cluster for specific recommendations regarding attention.

2. Teach your student to form a mental picture of information that is presented orally.

3. Develop a “procedures” or “how to” notebook so that your student can function as independently as possible, when carrying out routine tasks. For example, list mnemonics, steps for computer operation, use of microwave, etc.

4. Teach paraphrasing skills. The ability to recite information in one’s own words is a powerful memory aid.

5. Teach your student not to rely exclusively on mental memory. For example, when carrying a number in an addition problem your child should always write it down, above the column, rather than trying to remember it.

6. Teach your student to use a mini-tape recorder to record assignments, appointments, and announcements in class and important summary information from conversations. She should review and transfer this information onto a written calendar daily.

See other BrainSTARS articles.

Posted on BrainLine October 1, 2013.

From BrainSTARS, Brain Injury: Strategies for Teams And Re-education for Students, © 2002 Jeanne Dise-Lewis, PhD. Used with permission. The manual is available in English and Spanish. For more information or to order copies, call 720.777.5470 or A short video on how to use the BrainSTARS manual is available at