Photos As Memory Aids ~ Chris

We live in a different world than our parents grew up in with loads of good and probably an equal amount of bad.  While our parents tended to live in the moment and take it all in, we can and sometimes do live in the past or future.  This is because we are so connected to the world and worlds around us.  We can go almost anywhere we want with a click of the mouse and while this might be good, it can also drag us away from experiencing these things ourselves first hand.

However, when we do make the time to get out of our small world, we can use photographs and videos to freeze memories.  These tools are a great way to remind a baby the sights and signs they learned.  The more times a baby sees and rehearses the various things in life, the more they are committed to memory. In fact, sleep is said to be time when memories are consolidated from short term memory into long term memory.  This is why when we do a novel task that is mentally taxing, our brain continues into overdrive while we sleep.  Going over and over again the steps we carried out.  At some point, these mental patterns become so common they form a part of our neural pathways and are committed to long-term memory.  The more we use them, the more they solidify.  Think of learning to drive as an example.  When you first learned, you had to concentrate very hard.  As you slept at night, you rehearsed the patterns again.  Now, you probably don’t even think about the very minute corrections you make during driving and sometimes even arrive at your destination without even consciously thinking.  It’s like magic.

Now imagine you are a toddler where everything is new.  It’s like driving every day.  This is probably why children have such a poor long term memory – they simply don’t have the neural pathway foundation to build on.  When it’s all new and novel and there’s nothing for it to stick to, no previous experiences, it just floats through.

However, by taking mementos such as images and photographs or even a souvenir you can recall that experience back to your toddler into the future.  Over time, the images will probably replace their initial vague memory since it will take hold and produce a neural pathway of itself.  But that just means they’ll be more likely to remember the next similar experience.  If this concerns you, then do note that only very rare experiences from our childhood last until adulthood and even these, researchers have learned, are wrote and re-wrote many, many times as we age.  Scientists have also speculated that parental descriptions of events as we age also tend to skew our early childhood experiences.

This notwithstanding, I take images for unique events such as a trip to the zoo, the park, visiting family or friends, and so forth.  My son become accustomed to this and would ask to see the images and do the signs well into the week.  After a few days, he would move on to the next thing so as to keep things fresh.  Images are a great way to recall the signs for family and video can be great for special events.  My son was big on seeing video for animals, trucks (especially big ones) and his grandparents.  So next time you’re doing something your son or daughter is enthralled with, take the time to snap a photo or shoot a clip for them to review later.  They’ll have a blast!

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