Last spring, in spite of my own short-comings, my oldest two children became Cycle 2 Memory Masters. I hope that the process of preparing a memory master goes more smoothly this year.
By the way, if “memory master” is a new term for you, it is from our homeschool community, Classical Conversations. A child who masters all of the memory work for the year and is able to recite all of it in one sitting earns the title of memory master. The child recites 24 weeks of material in math, history, English, Latin, timeline, geography, and science. This takes about 45 minutes just to say all the memory work for the year. Many memory masters get to the point that the memory work is almost effortless to recite.
After successfully preparing memory masters last spring, I know I can go about getting there better this time around. We will continue doing our usual practice of listening to songs in the van, practicing 1-2 subjects per day during the week, and drilling memory work at any random time we can (like the doctor’s waiting room or a checkout line).
But I know some things we are going to do differently. Here’s what I hope to change.
Kids Quiz Each Other. Basically, every time Seth and I would have the kids quiz each other, they would fight or it would end with someone in tears. This year, we have already worked on teaching them how to quiz each other in a loving, gentle manner (but still make sure the answers are right). We’re going to continue working on this so that it can become a regular occurrence.
Kids Read the Memory Work More Often. I added the CC memory work to their school binders and will have them read over each week’s work daily. I am not having all the memory work as their copywork (because they have a lot of other writing already in their school work), but I will have them copy the parts that are giving them difficulty.
More Mini-Memory Master Testing Checkpoints. Last year, we had 1 or 2 of these checkpoints, but we should have had a few more. Basically, what we do for a mini-memory master test is to have the kids test on all the material up to that point in the year. We usually give out some sort of reward for each subject that is mastered at that point. I hope to have checkpoints at our fall break, over Christmas, and then once a month after that. There are lots of reasons for why we do this.
- It’s a great trial run for the emotional stress of actual memory master testing.
- We are able to catch small mistakes that are being made and correct them earlier on.
- It helps build the kids’ confidence.
- The mini-memory master testing that we do also allows the younger kids to be rewarded for any subjects they have mastered. If my 5 or 6 year old can master one subject, I’m thrilled and want him to be thrilled too.
- If you want to read more about how we mini-memory master test, my friend shared about what our family does here.
Plan Our Schooling Schedule to Allow for Extra Time Close to Memory Master Testing. When my two children decided to go for Memory Master last year, I didn’t realize how long I would need to spend with each of them leading up to the test. Last spring, the last month before the test, I would spend between 45 minutes and 2 hours per day per child quizzing. It started around the 2 hour mark, and then they picked up speed and confidence closer to the test. Now that I know I might need this, I want to just plan for it. The kids were mentally and physically worn out after practicing for such an extended period of time. We ended up scrapping most other learning to allow our time and energy to be focused on quizzing. Since two children were going for Memory Master, I needed to quiz them away from everyone else so that I could make sure they knew the material on their own without any influence from siblings, but this meant up to 4 hours of my day just working on the memory work.
Now that my children know what it feels like to be a memory master and how to get to that point, I hope this year goes much better in our preparation.
By the way, after writing most of this post, I asked the kids what they liked about preparing to be a memory master.
Elijah said that he liked the individual quizzing away from the other children up in my bedroom. He liked that I would ride the exercise bike the entire time he was quizzing (for everything but geography since I needed to look at the map with him).
Ruth told me that she enjoyed when she and Elijah quizzed each other. I don’t have nearly as fond of a recollection of those moments hence the practice on how to quiz each other in a gentle, loving manner.