Ever wonder how adults, who have gone years without riding, can get on a bike and take off like they rode yesterday?  And how is it that these same adults cannot remember all the state capitals they learned in the 4th grade?  Turns out, there are two different kinds of memory. 

Declarative memories include recollections of experiences like your first day of school or first date.  It also includes factual knowledge like those state capitals.  Declarative memories are ones you are aware of and can communicate to others.  In contrast, skills like playing an instrument or riding a bike are called procedural memories.  These types of memories are responsible for our daily performance.

The brain constantly regenerate its cells, just like the rest of our body.   One theory explains procedural memories are retained longer because they are stored in a part of the brain that does not regenerate as fast as where our declarative memories are stored.  So, procedural memories are just less likely to get erased.

Why is this important? Daily routines (procedures) and life skills are not built solely from factual knowledge of the tasks.  Routines are learned by performing them!  More specifically, by performing many successful repetitions of them. Lists may help, but they are not the complete answer. Many children who struggle with daily routines can identify the steps without any trouble at all.  The help these children need is how to remember to look at the list or withstand distractions between the steps! These are the things preventing them from a successful repetition of the routine.  They need a coaching parent to help them push through these obstacles until they can do it on their own.

Still not convinced procedural memory is important? Have you ever had difficulty remembering a phone number off the top of your head? But, when you pretended to dial the number, the numbers came back to you as your fingers moved over the keypad? Mic drop.

Click here to join the Chaos Free Family.  Learn to be a “coaching parent” for your child in the Progressive Independence lesson.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.