You hear it all the time and it sounds like a cliché – you know the famous quote by Arthur Fletcher that says, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Well, it’s true! We have mastered looking at You Tube videos and have likely memorized the lyrics to all of our favorite songs. But, how good are you at remembering all the necessary details for your exams? Our memories are only as strong as we work them. So, “how can I work out my brain?” you ask. Well, it can be a simple as some quick memory games and no one even has to know you’re doing it.Homework Teen

As cheesy as this may sound, the more you do this, the better your short-term memory becomes. You don’t need anyone else to play these games, in fact they can be played just about anywhere or any time you have a little free time.

You can play this game with your favorite artists, athletes, fashion designers, etc. So first, go ahead and get a few strips of papers or index cards and just write random letter and number sequences on there or a bunch of names. Shoot for 12-16 characters or names in a row like the example image. You have five seconds to memorize the whole thing. Now see if you can get it all. If you don’t get it on the first try, don’t be frustrated. Practice makes perfect and that is the reason you are practicing – to sharpen those skills. Using your memory involves encoding, storage and then retrieval. If you can do these three on free time you will be a “beast” in class with short-term memory.

memory cardPsychologist George A. Miller conducted a series of experiments that brought him to the conclusion that our brains cannot remember more than 7+2 items at a time. If you really think about it, it is true. We can remember cell phone numbers, license plate numbers, dates, addresses etc. However, if I give you 12 to 16 numbers I bet you will not remember all of them without stumbling. We change that, though, with some good memory workouts!

The more you do this the better you will get at memorizing a lot of things at just a short glance. If writing on paper or index cards is not your thing, then go ahead and download a memory game app or two. There are also websites you can use for memory, too but don’t forget this is not about sitting around being lazy. Our minds work better if we move around a lot to ensure proper oxygen and blood flow to the brain. So don’t forget to put in at least 30-60 minutes of activity each day. Don’t believe me? Just watch…


Written by Deniece Smith: Program coordinator at the YMCA of Rock River Valley. She oversees the Walking School Bus program and walks a group of children more than a mile to school every day.YMCA3