Do you end up feeling frustrated after revising with your child for the nth time? It’s normal to feel that way. Specially exams seem only about testing memory sometimes. It might help to know that problem may not be with your child, and merely in how revision sessions are being scheduled.

Remembering things we learned a long time ago – names, actions, words – is directly related to the amount of time that has passed since you encountered this information for the first time.

As an example, try remembering the names of some of your classmates from Grade 1. Do you notice that the names that come to mind first are that of people you had several interactions with, possibly people you were close to or met at a later point in time?

This led psychologists to study how our brains retain information. They found that while it is true that we all forget things we have learned over a period of time, this act of forgetting typically follows an exponential pattern, called the Forgetting Curve (Ebbinghaus, 1885/1913, Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology).

If you look at the diagram, you’ll see that periodic revision, scheduled just before we start to forget something, has a significant impact on the forgetting curve.

See how the time between revision and forgetting increases with time.

Forgetting Curve analysis

Try this learning technique, known as ‘Spaced Repetition’ to help your child remember large chunks of information over time.

Spaced Repetition

This basically works on the principle, that if you have five revisions of a topic, you are more likely to remember the information in the long term, if you space out repetitions rather than try and revise continuously.

A meta-analysis in 1999 suggested that those who learn information by spaced repetition will outperform 67% of those who learn by mass presentation given the same number of practice episodes.

Donovan, J. J., & Radosevich, D. J. (1999). A meta-analytic review of the distribution of practice effect: Now you see it, now you don’t. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(5), 795-805

App that make it work

There are several great applications available designed to take over the task of scheduling revisions from you. Use them and see how your child learns discipline, as well as internalises learning, with much less stress.

The Vidyanext Memory App

While the science is simple, it is not easy to put into practice. Technology can solve this problem. The Vidyanext memory app is built on the idea of spaced repetition to help learners review important information before forgetting sets in, thus ensuring that this information is retained for a longer period of time.

The app tracks when a topic is learned, when it needs to be revised and shows it to learners at the right time. Every set of flash cards is linked to a short game in the form of MCQs with points for answering the questions right. The game is as an incentive for learners to read the flash cards.