How to Remember

The first and most important skill in learning is the ability to remember. If you can’t remember the information you certainly cannot use it for problem solving, creative thinking or critical thinking. The graphic on the left is a representation of the “revised” Bloom’s Taxonomy. The lower green section used to be called “knowledge” when this first came out in the 1950’s. It was revised in the 1990’s and all the nouns were changed to verbs to show that learning is more action oriented. It progresses from the bottom and most basic of skills (remembering) to the top showing the most advanced or higher level thinking skill of creating (called synthesis on the earlier version).

The ability to remember is dependent on a number of factors.  Have you ever forgotten why you entered a room or the name of a person you just met? It could have been due to attention, motivation, emotion or relevancy. These are the same things that affect your son or daughter’s ability to remember also.


  • Get ready to pay attention – this tells the brain to focus on the important and disregard the unimportant.
  • Make sure basic needs are met (food, water, sleep, safety, belonging, etc.)
  • Make sure emotions are in check (emotions control the brain’s ability to remember)
  • What motivates? (intrinsic vs extrinsic)
  • Make learning personal (connect it in a meaningful way to your or your child’s life)


  • Manage the distractions – write down anything that interrupts your thinking and deal with it later
  • Visualize what you need to remember (often the crazier the easier to remember)
  • Use color, shape, placement, words and numbers to help the brain recall details (mindmaps)
  • Create mnemonics (riddles, acronyms, acrostics, loci, stories, etc.) for chunks of information
  • Take periodic, non-electronic breaks to allow the brain to process the new information
  • Use your learning style – it’s your preference for a reason
  • Take an interest – read ahead, research on your own, find other sources, make connections
  • Use your own words, rehearse, reflect and review to remember
  • Maintain a growth mindset – believe you can remember/learn anything. It’s effort not IQ.

Whether it is in the classroom, boardroom or living room, your ability to remember starts when you are first presented with new/different information – be ready.