Lisa Prejean: It helps to learn through association

October 23, 2009|By LISA PREJEAN

"Mommy, can you come here?"

My 10-year-old's voice sounded tired and frustrated. She was on the couch, studying for a geography quiz that was scheduled for the next day.

We had just finished dinner, and I was cleaning up the kitchen.

"Why don't you come here?" I suggested.

I was trying to help her make the most of her studying time.

The first step she needed to take was one from horizontal to vertical. It's hard to stay alert and focused when you're falling asleep on a cozy couch.

She reluctantly came over and handed me her study guide.

"I don't know this one, that one, this other one, and I can't remember the last one," she said, pointing to various items on her study guide.


"Is this what I wanted to go over with you this weekend?" I asked.

"Yes, but the quiz wasn't until Wednesday, so I didn't think I needed to study until now," she said.

Someday soon she will come to realize that Mom's prompting to study in advance is practical advice that she should heed. When I reminded her of this, she seemed even more on edge.

"OK, Mommy, but I need help with this now," she said in a voice that was more pleading than demanding.

So I stopped what I was doing to help. She told me that the quiz would cover the capitals of Canada's provinces and territories.

I decided to come up with a clue or association for each one that she didn't know.

This process was fun for both of us.

For example, I told her that Albert and Ed are both boy names. Edmonton is the capital of Alberta. She liked that clue.

For Winnipeg, Manitoba, I told her to think of a man who has a horse that whinnies.

Since Canada is "on top" of the United States, I told her to think of Toronto, Ontario, as Toronto being on top of Ontario.

When we got to Regina, Saskatchewan, however, I was stumped. How would I come up with something for that? Ahh ... the order of the first letters of both words. What letter comes before "S"? Likewise, what word comes before Saskatchewan? Regina starts with "R," so it must be paired with a word that starts with an "S."

My daughter seemed to appreciate the helpful hints I tried to provide.

I have always learned better through association. I ask myself, "How can I come up with a creative way to remember this information?"

Sometimes the associations are humorous; sometimes they are downright ironic.

As my son was studying a passage of Scripture this week, he asked if I would listen to him recite it.

As I was listening, I noticed that he sometimes mixed up a "which" with a "that." I also noticed that the word "which" was used several times close to the word gate.

Before I could stop myself, I said, "The 'whiches' are at the gate."

My son repeated the statement with an ominous tone in his voice. It seemed to help him remember the verse.

Plus, we both benefited from the laughter that ensued.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at .

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