I’ll bet you do a lot of reading. So, in this post, I am going to show you how to remember things that you read. You can apply this to anything you read, whether it be information from me or from a school text-book.
I never know what I’m going to say until I start typing. Let’s see where this takes us.
First, there is some preparation you can do to get your brain in the mood to learn. I want to suggest 3 ways:
3 Ways to Prepare
- Get enough sleep.
- Don’t eat big meals – When your stomach digests big meals it takes blood away from your brain, causing sleepiness and making it hard to focus. Try it. Eat a big meal and then sit down with a book. What happens after five or ten minutes?
- Avoid distractions – Go where there’s no distractions like TV or other people. Also, avoid multi-tasking like texting while you try to read.
Ok, now that you are well rested, not stuffed with food, and in a place where there are few distractions, you are ready to read. Oh, but wait. I want you to be aware of two ways in which our brains remember. Then my suggestions will make more sense.
2 Ways in Which Our Brains Remember
The 2 ways are:
- An emotional experience
Repetition is when you read something over and over, practice playing a piano piece over and over, or give a speech in front of the mirror over and over.
An emotional experience is when you do something that gets your heart beating fast like taking a test, or doing a piano recital in front of people, or giving a speech in front of people. Have you ever received a test back and said to yourself, “Oh my gosh! How could I have missed that?” Those are the test questions you tend to remember the most.
Ok, let’s look at the specific things you can do to help remember what you read. See if you can tell which ones involve repetition, and which involve an emotional experience. Consider these 3 steps:
- Read it
- Teach it
- Do it
First, skim over the whole chapter or post. Read all the headings. If there’s a lot of material, read the first sentence in each paragraph. That way, you’ll get a good idea of what the chapter or post is about, and that will help you to understand and remember what you read.
Some of my posts are so short that you’ll learn most of it from just skimming.
Read to answer a question. Create a question from the heading. Then when you read, look for an answer to the question. For example, in my post entitled Smart Babysitters Read to Kids, there is a heading called Benefits to Babysitters. Take that heading and make it into a question like: “How does reading to children help me, the babysitter?” or “What’s in it for me?” Then read to answer that question.
Read it as if you are going to teach it. If you know you are going to teach someone what you read, something in your brain gets serious about remembering. I don’t know how it works. I just know it does. Try it, and see just how serious your brain does get.
Think in pictures.. I do much better remembering if I can think in pictures rather than words. Here’s what I mean. In my post entitled How Babysitters Get Kids to Clean, I talk about how to play Scavenger Hunt. While you read that, see yourself teaching the children how to play, and then visualize the children going around the room picking up things. See yourself giving the children a reward sticker and praising them for doing a good job.
I just realized something. If you visualize what I just told you, you will visualize yourself visualizing. Good luck with that.
Take notes.Get yourself a spiral notebook. Then, while you are reading, jot down some notes to help you remember. The act of writing helps to reinforce what you just read. In other words, writing helps you remember. Then if you need to review what you read, read your notes.
Have someone quiz you. In my eBook, I have included questions at the end of some of the chapters specifically for someone to ask you after you have read the chapter.
These posts are so short that it would be easy for someone to read a post and make up questions to ask you. Someone could also use your notes from which to make up questions.
It is easy to disregard this step and skip doing it. I think if you want to remember something, you would be wise to include this step. When someone quizzes you, it forces you to recall what you’ve just read and that helps you to remember. Testing is an emotional experience and you need that in order to remember well.
Let me say something about school. I think a good way to remember what you read for school is to have a partner to study with. By that I mean, someone you can quiz and someone who can quiz you. If you know you are going to quiz someone else, then you will read as if you are going to teach it. That will help you remember. Also, you will read to answer a question. That is, you will make up questions during your reading to ask your partner – which will help you to remember.
And when your partner quizzes you, that provides a third way to help you remember. Don’t underestimate the importance of quizzes.
Discuss what you read with someone else. After completing your reading, discuss the material with someone as soon as possible, while it is still fresh in your mind. For example, in my post The Perfect Babysitter, I explain what some parents feel the perfect babysitter would be like. Ask someone, “How would you describe the perfect babysitter?” and see what they say. Then tell them what you read. Talk about any qualities that you would add to make a perfect babysitter – or any qualities you think do not need to be on the list.
Anything I tell you is always open to opinion. Talk to others about the suggestions I make and then if you disagree, leave a comment.
Any time you teach someone what you’ve read, you will remember it better. If you teach it again to someone else, you will remember it better still. And I’ll even let you use your notes. Give it a try.
So up to now you have learned 7 ways to remember what you read. They are:
- skim it
- read it to answer a question
- read it as if you were going to teach it
- picture yourself doing it
- take notes
- have someone quiz you
- and teach someone what you learned
Is that a pretty good summary? Now, can you repeat those 7 ways without looking? Don’t look! See how many you can get right. Go!
Did you do it? If you didn’t, don’t read any further until you’ve tried.
If you did do it, even if you missed some, congratulations. You’re on your way to making a change in your life that will help you for many years to come.
The last way to remember what you read is by doing it. That is the whole reason I created my eBook and my website and this blog – to inspire you to take action; to do the things I recommend.
Now, you should be asking yourself, “So, what’s in it for me?”
That’s a fair question. Here is what I’m trying to do:
I want you to learn life skills that you can practice as a babysitter: business skills, communication skills, parenting skills. As a result (and an incentive) you will make more money babysitting.
I also have another reason for all this. I want to provide parents with the best babysitters around. I’m talking about you – the best babysitter around.
But I’m getting off the subject. Let’s talk about doing what you read.
As soon as you can, put what you learned into action. For example, in my post, 6 Ways to Make People Like You – Part 1, step #2 is to smile. Put that into action as soon as you can. Let’s say the first person you see is your sister. “Hey, how’s it going?” you say with a big sincere smile. Then you see your mom. “Hi mom,” you say with a smile. You pass your brother. “Hey, what’s up?” you say as you smile.
You have just left 3 people puzzled, wondering what’s going on with you. But that’s ok. It can be our secret. If they ask you what’s going on, just tell them, “Nothing.” And smile. This could be quite entertaining.
Now that you have taken action, you have become more aware of yourself smiling and if you keep it up, it will become a habit and you will do it without thinking about it. Soon people will start to realize that you are indeed sincere and you’ll start changing how people feel with just your smile. You’ll make people feel good and they’ll like you for it.
Ok, answer these 3 question:
1) What are the 3 ways to prepare yourself to read?
2) What are the 3 ways in which our brains remember?
3) Name the 8 things you can do to better remember what you’ve read?
If you tried to answer these questions – I mean really tried, racked your brain, did your best – then I applaud you.
Well, I’ve had this post up on my computer for 3 days, adding to it from time to time whenever I felt inspired. I’ve learned that whenever I get a “brilliant” thought, I had better write it down immediately, or I’ll forget and that thought may never return. I’ve spent some crazy late hours writing down my thoughts.