Do your kids need to memorize?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Do your kids need to memorize?
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Sat, 09-04-2004 - 2:53am
Lots and lots of facts.... My daughter has to learn all 50 states, all their abreviations, and all their capital in the next few weeks. (It's on the CA standard for 5th grade.) Why??? I can understand the states and I can understand studying about them all and their capitals. But was good is it going to do for her to MEMORIZE all the state capitals except to be able to play trivia games. I never learned them at school. It's not something I need to know quickly. Math facts I can understand. I know that standards & school philosophy's have changed but I don't see why I (or my DD) needs to memorize something I can look up in seconds.

I guess I am unusally frustrated since my DD has some LD's.. memorizing random facts is not one of her strengths. (We had those times & division tables COLD last year and she has already lost them.) I am sure this wouldn't be as big of an issue on a different child. She has a LOT to learn in life and I don't feel like spending hours drilling her on these random facts. I would rather spend that time working with her on her math facts and the details of how to do long division correctly. She already has a HUGE state report on Wyoming to do in the next few weeks and a book report to finish. This is all on top of her regular homework. SIGH...


Sara & Tim
Diana (Sara 9 yrs, Timothy 5 yrs)

Sara, IVTimothy

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2003
Sun, 09-05-2004 - 5:52pm
That does sound dumb to me too.

Kim

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Sun, 09-05-2004 - 9:49pm
I am for the kids learning the states, and geography in general. Our school system have the states and the capitals in 4th grade. We played some great games on those. It really irks me when people don't know thier basic geography, and it is another major shortcoming in American schools.

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 09-06-2004 - 1:28pm
I am fine with them learning geography and I do want my DD to learn all the states & where they belong. It's memorizing the state capitals that I think is over the top. IMO memorizing is for informaton that we use over & over such a phone numbers, math facts, and comon spelling words. What the capital of Iowa is by heart is simply a fact that is just going to be forgotten. It is NOT something my DD is going to use frequently. It doesn't mean we shouldn't study them and learn about them. What I am complaining about is beging required to memorize them for a test. Memorizing raw facts isn't learning geography, it isn't fun and it doesn't teach a whole lot.

Sara & Tim
Diana (Sara 9 yrs, Timothy 5 yrs)

Sara, IVTimothy
Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Tue, 09-07-2004 - 7:38am
I guess I like them memorizing the capitals of the states, and hopefully soon msot the major countries in the world. I think that is just the other half of geography. I know that a lot of people have trouble with rote memory work, and it shouldn't be a huge portion of the final grade, but I feel it is important. Oh, Iowa-Des Moines, ( I still remember! ; )

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
Tue, 09-07-2004 - 9:45am
I'm not in education, so I'm not sure the absolute reason why capitals are to be memorized and tested. I do think that one reason is to teach children memorization skills. I think that is important. We need to be able to easily memorize details. Perhaps they believe that 50 states/50 capitals is a fairly easy way to work the portion of the brain that memorizes. And, of course, the only way to tell if the child actually did that is to test. I imagine they know that alot of stuff that is memorized will not be remembered, but alot will. And the skill of being able to do that has to be massaged and taught. That's my own analysis, whatever it is worth.

The funny thing is, when I sit down and help prep my 10 year old for science tests and social studies test, I really enjoy learning the stuff he is learning! LOL, especially science. I will tell my husband some interesting facts and he looks at me strangely and asks me "what did that school of yours teach you?" LOL!

conmama

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-08-2004
Tue, 09-07-2004 - 11:56am
Sean didn't have to do that in 5th grade here in WA.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-10-2004
Mon, 09-13-2004 - 8:58pm
Hi. It sounds like you are very overwhelmed. Here is a suggestion. Try really hard to not say anything negative in front of her about memorizing anything! I know that whenever I let something slip in front of my son he will use that to play a guilty pity thing on me! Then, just do a little bit at a time. No rush. Sometimes I think it's the rushy-hurry type thing that really gets kids overhwelmed. Like there is a sudden urgency to learn all the state capitols!! LOL Well, there isn't! Chat with her teacher-let her know it's not her best area. It is important she learn her niche on memorization though-it's only going to get tougher! Maybe singing or comparing each state with something she enjoys? Sometimes it is hard to make homework/schoolwork fun and enjoyable but it's important you try! Good luck to you! Tonia
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 09-14-2004 - 1:24am
Yes.. partly it's because my DD has LD's and memorizing & writting skills is one of her week points. It also means her other projects take her a LOT longer than other kids in her grade. In her case I KNOW she will forget everything the next day or at least a week later. (So why spend hours and weeks of stress.) DD has much more important things to improve. She also has a LONG (26 page) state report (her's in on Wyoming.) due at about the same time. I mentioned in passing to DD's teacher that I knew about the assigment and it wasn't my top priority and she seemed to understand. I AM not telling her not to do this assignement but honestly I am not obsessing about it.

Also I disagree with several posters. I don't feel that rote memorization is an important skill. It may be an important skill to do well in some classes & pass some standardized test. but I don't feel it's important in the long run for most people. I also don't think it's something you get better by practicing, I think it's just something some people are better at than others. IMO I think it's more important to learn HOW to look information up, how to figure something up on your own, how to write well, understand why were are studying information, and to learn about a wide variety of information, to be well read, how to extrat information from what we are reading, how to debate an issue, how to read a map. How to THINK and come up with your own opinion. But I guess I am an idealist at heart.


Sara & Tim
Diana (Sara 9 yrs, Timothy 5 yrs)

Sara, IVTimothy
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-10-2004
Tue, 09-14-2004 - 6:21am
You know..I was thinking more about your issue and you do have a point. I have a funny story for you! When I was in the fifth grade I was driving with my mother somewhere and I asked her.."what comes after February momma?" She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "huh??!!!" Well, I didn't know my months!! Needless to say she was a little angry at the fact that I had slipped through school without anyone noticing that I didn't know the months of the year!!!! Every chance she got after that she would recite those darn months with me until I knew them! LOL

Thought this would give you a nice little laugh! Sometimes things seem SO very important but really they're not. Don't sweat it...she will be fine! Also, does she test well? I remember I was a terrible tester-this may be the issue. Have a great day! Tonia
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-08-2004
Tue, 09-14-2004 - 12:21pm

You make a valid point -- rote memorization isn't the end all and be all of education.

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