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How to memorise Qur’an using memory techniques

 

There are over one billion Muslims in the world today. Every single one of them understand the importance of the Quran. Over time people have tried to eradicate it, only for Muslims to memorise it and put it back together in the same order again. Millions of people today try very hard to memorise it.

Most people have difficulty memorising the Quran because of the repetition involved.

There are three ways it can be memorised:

  1. People that can read and understand the Arabic Quranic text
  2. People that can read the Quranic Arabic, but not understand the text
  3. People that cannot read and understand the Quranic Arabic text

Generally, most people forget the start of the ayah (sentence). Usually once they’ve memorized a few ayah’s, they stop recalling until it gets to the start of the next ayah. Once the start is remembered, then the rest of the ayah is usually remembered after it. Hence the trick is to have the start of the ayah memorised. This can be a word for each start of the ayah.

How to memorise Quran using memory techniques

Let’s take an example for the very first surah (chapter) of the Quran which has 7 ayah.

The full ayah, in transliteration form reads like this

  1. bismillâh ir-rahmân ir-rahîm
  2. al-hamdulillâhi rabb il-âlamîn
  3. ar-rahmân ir-rahîm
  4. mâliki yawm id-dîn
  5. iyyâka na`budu wa iyyâka nasta`în
  6. ihdinâ s-sirât al-mustaqîm
  7. sirât al-ladhîna an`amta `alayhim ghayr il-maghdûbi `alayhim wa la d-dâlîn

If we take the start of each ayah then we have the below.

  1. bismillâh
  2. al-hamdulillâhi
  3. ar-rahmân
  4. mâliki
  5. iyyâka
  6. ihdinâ
  7. sirât

Now we can use the start of each word on a location.

  1. Front Gate – bismillâh
  2. Front Door – al-hamdulillâhi
  3. Bed – ar-rahmân
  4. Shower – mâliki
  5. Sink – iyyâka
  6. Cupboard – ihdinâ
  7. Television – sirât

To memorise the start of each ayah, you will need to make a story up with the location and the ayah. For example:

  1. You smash through your front gate and say ‘Bismillah”
  2. You are knocking on your front door and accidently burp. You say ‘Al-hamdulillah’

You get the picture? Now make up stories for the rest of the surah below.

Keep going for the rest of the ayah and challenge yourself to memorise it using the method of loci. To memorise the Qur’an in general, it is ideal to have a location per ayah. However this would mean over 6000 locations. Some ayah’s are one page long so it’s how you break up that page that will enable you to memorise it better.

English translation below.

  1. In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
  2. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the world;
  3. Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
  4. Master of the Day of Judgment.
  5. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek.
  6. Show us the straight way,
  7. The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.

Practice memorising the above using the method of loci. For example:

  1. Front Gate – In the name of God…
  2. Front Door – Praise be to God…
  3. Bed – Most Gracious…
  4. Shower – Master of the Day of Judgment…
  5. Sink – Thee do we worship…
  6. Cupboard- Show us the straight way…
  7. Television – The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace…

Memorising the start of an ayah will help you memorize the ayah, however there are long ayah’s in the Quran as mentioned above. Linking these using the VAI memory principle will connect the ayah so that it is fully memorised.

To recall what you’ve memorised, go to your first location and try and remember the story you’ve created for the word you associated using the VAI memory principle.

Recall English translation

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

As an exercise, select a surah from the Qur’an and test yourself. It does not have to be in Arabic. So long as you exercise your imagination, memory principles as well as techniques, it will provide a good foundation for brain development for you. The more you practise, the more you will be able to memorise the Quran.

 
 
 

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5 Memory Exercises For Busy Executives

 

I work with many stressed and busy executives that always complain about their memory and how they don’t have enough time to do the things they should be doing or learning, such as remembering people’s names! So I’ve decided to share some exercises with you that can help ease the situation and give comfort knowing that you can be much more productive with some basic exercises. You won’t notice improvement overnight. But you will notice them in a very short space of time.

1. Names techniques

Remembering names is vital in the business world. To be able to recall someone’s name, their details, work history, even family members is seen as something quite impressive. It also builds upon relationships and tells the person that they are important because someone took notice of them and cared. You can read about the techniques to remember names from an earlier post I wrote here

Social media is fantastic for exercising name memorization. For example, you can go to a site like Linkedin and practise your skills. Here’s how I do it.

Exercise:

  • Log into linkedin
  • Click on the ‘Home’ menu
  • Memorise names from the news feed as you scroll down the page

You can also do the same thing for other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. With millions of people on these sites, you will never be short of names to practise on.

2. Pomodoro technique

Busy executives often believe time goes past really fast so they end up making assumptions their work will need at least a certain amount of time to get done. For example, scheduling meetings for an hour or two, or giving themselves half a day to prepare a presentation.

Here’s the thing – You don’t need to allocate long time periods for certain tasks. There just needs to be a sustained effort for short period which will give you maximum result. Enter the Pomodoro technique. To read more visit http://pomodorotechnique.com/

Exercise: Make a list of all things you can Pomodoro and take action!

My list for example is:

Memory training, speed reading exercises, reading a book, researching, some meetings, memorization, speech preparation, emails, social media.

I do these tasks for 25 minutes without any interruption. Get as much done as I can. Repeat the process throughout the day if needed. It is not exactly a memory exercise, however it helps with productivity just like memory techniques.

 3. Imagination & visualization training

Using your imagination has significant benefits. It helps you to exercise both sides of your brain and assist with memory improvement, concentration, along with many others. That little bit of extra visual activity for the busy person can relax the mind, reduce stress, and give mental clarity, which can be lost through stress and anxiety.

SMASHIN SCOPE is an acronym created by Vanda North and Tony Buzan is a system to get you not only more imaginative, but creative as well. You can read the full article on SMASHIN SCOPE here

Exercise:

Visualise your house and go through from one part of the house to another as though you were looking for lost keys. As you’re going through your belongings use your senses to smell certain objects, like a toaster maybe. If no smells come to your mind, then make one up. Do the same for all your other senses by touching, hearing the noises, and tasting. This can also be done around the office as well and also with people you meet. After a while, it will almost seem like meditation!

4. Speed reading

So much reading to do with so little time. Skim reading is obviously not fully reading. Speed reading is also not skim reading. You do read every single word however it is through the reading of context rather than individual words. For Speed Reading Course click here.

Exercise:

Place your finger, pen, or a pointing device underneath the words and move it along as you read. The exercise is to do this as fast as you can for five minutes straight. Doing this will start accommodating how your brain views larger groups of words and how it starts to comprehend written content.

Read five seconds per page for five minutes.

5. Goals visualisation

Goal setting plays an important part in successful people’s lives. It can help push you to achieve and go beyond what normal capabilities are. For busy executives, this means achieving personal needs and wants a lot sooner, inspiring and leading others more effectively, and maintaining that competitive edge.

Exercise:

– Write down a list of your goals

Write as many as you can. It is important that you have visual contact with this list at all times otherwise it is out of sight, out of mind. Think of the fridge, or post-it notes on your computer. Be creative.

– Visualize achieving your goals

The mind doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not. Visualizing your goals gives your brain a sense of what I call ‘pre’ accomplishment. The more you see this, the more you are going to invoke emotion.

– Note how you feel achieving your goal

Once you have that emotion it is time to feed it into a feeling. Feel, very deeply, about how it would be achieving your goal. Write down your feelings. Tell someone. Be passionate about your goals. The feeling part, if done right, will lead you closest to your goals. Everything else are just tasks. The feeling is what will drive and motivate you and bring about change.

– Replay and make each story for goal larger

Now replay each goal over again bursting with feeling. Each time you do this make the story bigger and better. The closer you are mentally to your goal, the closer you will be physically in real life.

 
 
 

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12 Creativity Tips for the Non-Creative Type

 

When I’m coaching I get two types of people – Creative and the not so creative. About half the people I train are not on the creative side. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that I need to focus on different strategies to attend to their needs, rather than play the strengths of the creative.

One of the greatest things I’ve come across in my twelve years as a memory coach is ‘SMASHIN SCOPE’ by Tony Buzan. SMASHIN SCOPE is an acronym created by Vanda North, which outlines how we can use our brain to greatly enhance our visual perception of it. These principles help us to not only remember better, but become a more creative and lateral thinker.

12 Creativity Tips for the Non-Creative Type

  1. Synaesthesia – Refers to the use of our senses. Generally when we picture something it is a static image. For example if I said ‘whiteboard’, most people will have a visual image of a whiteboard not doing much. Either on a wall or those moveable ones. Instead of just ‘seeing’ the image, by using our senses we can become further engaged and involved with our subject. E.g. smelling, touching, licking, and hearing the sound the whiteboard makes. Maybe as you’re licking it
     
  2. Movement – Remember the static visual image? Well movement makes that image dynamic. Going back to our whiteboard example, we can now visualise it spinning around, moving from side to side, or even growing some legs and walking out of the room. Think animation. (Yes we can create stuff that doesn’t make sense. More on this later)
     
  3. Association – Without association there is no connection. If there is no connection then there is no memory. If you visualise a pen next to paper, then this is weak association. But if you saw that the pen wrote on the paper, then this would be better. However, to make it exciting and memorable we can have the pen scribbling on the paper and ripping it to shreds. Oh yeh. Now that’s association.
     
  4. Sexuality – Tony Buzan says we all have a good memory in this area so let’s use it. Although when I’m working with kids, I tell them to visualise themselves as the subject. For example imagine being the actual whiteboard. How does it feel to have people write on your face all day? Do you get a kick out of it or are you stuck and want to be free?
     
  5. Humour – The emotion of something funny can grow your visual senses greatly. This doesn’t mean try and be the funniest person out there that will impress others. It means what is funny to you. For example if I meet a person by the name of John for example, I immediately picture that person sitting on a toilet. To me that’s funny. To others, it may not be. This explains why comedians, just like my friend Nazeem Hussain, are generally super creative beings.
     
  6. Imagination – When we visualise and think of things it is generally in the realm of this world. However if we want to have a great memory and become more creative, we need to step outside this realm. Instead of just imagining sitting on a chair, how about the chair turning around, jumping and then sitting on you? That doesn’t happen every day, however your brain sees it quite clearly since it isn’t a normal occurrence and a stronger mental image is created. Imagination is your friend that can take you to places and see things you have never seen or experienced before. As Victor Hugo so nicely put it – “Imagination is intelligence with an erection.”
     
  7. Numbers – Sometimes we need a bit of order in our visualisations. Numbers can create that order and provide some much needed love for the left-brained type. Try and add some numbers that mean something to you to an image and see what happens.
     
  8. Symbolism – As they say, a picture is a thousand words. Using symbols to represent a bunch of words greatly assists with accessing the information quicker. It also helps with communication of a particular message. For example, what would happen if street signs were written in sentences as you’re driving? That’s right you wouldn’t have time to read them as another sign with text would come up, and so on. Bang you’ve crashed! Have images on the signs and voila! Your brain processes it much quicker. This is incidentally how speed reading works, by reading in images, not words.
     
  9. Colour – Creativity loves colour. Moreover, used well, colours can help you think and remember very quickly. For example, instead of visualising a bright red tomato, you can see it as a bright blue tomato.
     
  10. Order – Creating a sequence of events or stories allows our brain to follow a visual pattern which enables us to remember. The creation of these patterns and sequences build creativity and assist us to group things or store them in secure storage compartments in our brain. An example would be to use the Method of Loci technique, or simply to make a story connecting random objects together.
     
  11. Positive Images – Happy happy joy joy images are great. They make you feel all cosy inside and yes it helps you remember. However negative images also help you remember. So when visualising, you can do either. The tomato was so tasty so I ate it. The tomato was rotten, so I threw it and it hit the bald man right on top of his head.
     
  12. Exaggeration – Making things large as life, seeing them massive brings a different dimension. Your mind now has a hi-definition view of what you are thinking of and can remember it. Can you picture a 10 foot tall kebab down the road with garlic sauce dripping down the sides and people running up to it from all directions with absolute joy?
 
 

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How To Remember And Memorise Names

 

Here’s the scenario: You are the CEO of a large organisation. You get called into a meeting where there are several employees and stakeholders present that you haven’t yet met. One by one they reach out to shake your hand and tell you their name. You sit down and prepare yourself for the meeting. However there is just one thing – you’ve forgotten the names of the people you just shook hands with. What a bummer!

Forgetting names can be a serious matter. The impact in business can be as severe as losing business relationships, staff disengagement, and people left not feeling important.

There are CEOs out there that seem to remember the names of everyone. These skillful human beings know the importance of such strategy as it builds rapport, human engagement and makes people feel important. However, not all CEOs and executives have a knack for remembering names. It is the reason why CEOs that come to me for memory coaching want to be able to remember names so they can build sustainable relationships. Remembering names can be a very difficult thing to master and not many people in general are good at it. Even the top memory champions in the world still find it difficult.

So why is remembering a name so difficult? The answer lies in how our brains work.

The left side of the brain deals with such things as logic, words, numbers, structure, lists. These things are in fact difficult to remember as they are ‘abstract’, meaning they don’t make much sense. Numbers are difficult to remember as they don’t essentially have a meaning. For example, if you tried to memorise the number 8254390256392625, it would just look like a jumble and not mean anything. Even a list of words can be difficult as they are abstract to the point until they have a meaning. It is why people often forget shopping and to-do lists as the information is abstract and not stored in the brain as it should be.

How to remember names

Trying to remember a name is exactly the same. Just like a number or a word, it is also abstract. It provides no visual representation to us. So when people try and remember a name, it is usually trying to repeat an abstract piece of information in their head, expecting to recall them perfectly. In some instances yes recall may be achieved. But it is not an effective way for remembering names.

The right side of the brain has imagination, colour, rhythm, sound, vision and the like. In order to remember a name perfectly, we need to be able to use both sides of our brain. That is, connect the abstract with the visual/imaginative. Let me give you an example:

Years ago I used to work with a colleague by the name of Vijayarangan Ramachandran. He was a lovely young man, however his name was too difficult for me to remember. The name didn’t mean anything to me. It was too abstract. In order to remember his name I had to convert the abstract name into an image. So I played around with the name and broke it up like so: Vijay | arangan | Ram a | chandran.

For ‘Vijay’ I visualised my colleague as a DJ (Disc Jockey) pumping out tunes at a nightclub. A picture of an Oran-gutan for ‘arangan’ came into my head. ‘Ram a’ reminded me of ramming a shopping trolley for some particular reason. So I imagined ‘ramming a’ shopping trolley. ‘Chandran’ sounded like “Chained” and  “Ran”.

I had now created images for Vijayarangan Ramachandran. However decoding the abstract words into images wasn’t enough. I had to remember the name in its order. This is where I had to create a story to associate one name to the other. Doing this helped me remember the order of the name. The story was, a DJ playing music at a nightclub when all of a sudden an Orang-utan jumped on top of the turntable. The music stopped and everyone froze and turned their heads towards the DJ booth. One of the dancers turned around and was ‘ramming a’ shopping trolley into the DJ booth. Someone then came and ‘chained’ the trolley to the DJ booth and then ‘ran’ off.

To memorize the name I went through 2 steps;

  1. Abstract to image conversion. Transform the meaningless to an image.
  2. Image to association. Order images together into a story.

Adding to this you can also rhyme the names. E.g. Mike on a bike. Rodger the dodger. Tansel Tinsel. Imagine a person you know. If you meet a Ronald, maybe picture Ronald McDonald. There is much fun to be had trying to remember a name. The more you play around the easier it gets.

These elements are part of The Yellow Elephant Memory Model which help people understand how to use their brains to remember and learn anything. For example, present confidently without any notes and learn languages quickly. More detail about the Yellow Elephant Memory Model can be found in my book – The Yellow Elephant.

So the next time you want to remember a name, ask yourself how you can make an image from it and then convert that into a story. The results will surprise you!

Oh and the name of my colleague was?

(Originally published in The CEO Magazine March 2014 edition)

 
 

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Speed reading – How to read faster with better comprehension

 

I was never a big reader. I have no idea how I made it through school. I would read a sentence and almost immediately forget what I had read. Multiply that by a few pages and trying to recall written information was a fairly difficult task. Especially if it was ‘technical’ content, then I would have to go back and re-read many times over. Just so I can fully understand what I had gone through. I was fortunate enough to study Information Technology at university where there was not much reading to be done. Otherwise, it would have been an even tougher journey for me academically.

However, in this day and age we are presented with more and more information. Anything we ever need to know and learn is only a Google search away. The problem now is not so much the finding of knowledge, it is the impact of that knowledge. Since we can find anything we pretty much want, we need to be able to use that bit of knowledge to how we want. Unfortunately, getting to the point of impact from the knowledge is a little more challenging as we tend to miss one important aspect of knowledge acquisition – effective reading. We need to be able to translate this knowledge so that we actually understand it faster and better. Doing so will help us get to what we really want to do, rather than spending so much effort to understand it. The most frequent request I receive as a coach from clients is to be able to read faster with better so they can gain knowledge in a more efficient way, and use that knowledge to boost their skills so they can have greater impact in life.

We are traditionally taught letters of the alphabet and then slowly move on to reading words. And that’s it. That’s where our reading level stops. We never progress from this part of reading. Once we can read words, we can read anything yes? Well, of course. However, there is something far greater going on in relation to reading that not many people know about. If they did know then our education system and professionals would be teaching an entirely different way than today.

In my book, The Yellow Elephant, I discuss the Yellow Elephant Memory Model. This model breaks down four components of deciphering meaningless data and how to encode that into something memorable to be stored in our brains for easy retrieval. The four components are:

1.     Abstract
2.     Image
3.     Association
4.     Communication

Abstract in this model means that the data we are presented doesn’t make sense to us. Either for a short period of time or at all. For example, if I presented you the number 282546293, what would this mean to you? Not much I’m guessing. If I wrote something to you in a language you didn’t know, that would also be classified as abstract, since you would not know what it meant. Words we know can also be classified as abstract. We don’t get the full meaning or imagery of what that word represents straight away. It could be in milliseconds, or seconds, or even longer if we are dealing with ‘technical’ words. Why is this an issue? If we don’t form a representation of the word in an image form in our minds, then we don’t get to fully understand the word. How many times have you read something, only to go back and re-read it again? This occurs because there was no image to represent that word and hence you had to go back, sometimes subconsciously, to create an image for it. This is also the reason why ‘technical’ content can be difficult to understand as you may not have an image related to a word.

Let’s take watching a movie for example. Do you try and understand every single word that’s spoken? Do you memorise and focus on each word consciously? No, because doing so would be painful and you will probably go back and rewind to hear the dialogue again because of having missed ‘important’ bit you couldn’t quite remember. It would be a very slow and long movie. Yet, this action is quite familiar when we read. We are taught to read word by word and by the time the sentence or two finishes, we have go back to re-read so it all makes sense.

The question now is, how do we decipher abstract data (in our case, words) to images to better understand what we read? The answer is learning the rules of speed reading. Speed reading is the art of encoding abstract data to visual information. By being able to encode abstract data to visual, we are naturally reading much faster. Also, since we are visualising the information, we are enhancing our comprehension. So how we do we understand what’s happening in the movie? We just watch it. We SEE the content. And because we are visualising the content, we are engaging mentally with better understanding. Why do you think it can take days and weeks to read a book, yet its equivalent movie can only take a couple of hours?

Another example is street signs. Imagine if instead of images representing a message, it was decoded as a sentence or two. What do you think would be the result out on the roads? We would end up not finishing sentences as we are travelling a lot faster, hence not be able to read all the signs. And it’s not like you can quickly go back now is it :)

Here are the techniques I use to encode abstract data into meaningful visually encoded information.

Speed reading techniques

1. Using a reading guide

Read with your finger! That’s right. For those who have been told at school that using your finger to read is silly, it is not the case. In fact, reading with your finger allows a flow to your reading which helps you to not go back and re-read. Going back and re-reading (Back-skipping) not only slows you down, but it also breaks up your concentration and you begin to lose out on comprehension. Also, your brain is doing the reading, not your eyes. Using your finger enables your brain to reach out further into the sentences that help you read quicker.

2. Chunking

How to take the next level up from reading word by word.  

Let’s take a sentence:
The big fat cat jumped over the spikey large fence.

Reading this word by word, our brain processes ten words. Hypothetically, if every word took us one second to read, the above sentence would take ten seconds to read. Now let’s break the sentence into chunks.

(The big fat cat) (jumped over) (the spikey large fence)

In this instance, we have ‘chunked’ the words into three (bracketed) images. If it took you one second to read each ‘chunk’ or image, the sentence could now be read in three seconds. This is more than three times faster than reading word by word! And you still read every word.

In order to apply chunking, we apply it to a minimum set of words. To begin with, start by taking three words at a time.

How to chunk:

Place your reading guide in the middle of the three words (i.e. beneath the second word).
Instead of reading each word, look at them as a group and visualise an image for them.

3. Image flow

While chunking works well, it may not provide you with the best images, as you may have to chunk a group of words that doesn’t necessarily make sense as an image, such as ‘this and ...’ Image flow is a technique that assists you to visualise and capture images from the words that are shown in context only.

If we take our previous chunking example:

(The big fat cat) (jumped over the) (spikey large fence)
With image flow, we can see that it might make more sense to have:

(The big fat cat jumped over) (the spikey large fence)

or

(The big fat cat jumped over the spikey large fence)

In the first instance, the big fat cat jumping forms one image and the spikey large fence forms another: two in total. In the second, we’re able to picture both the cat and the fence in the one image.

The trick is to identify the images as you read. Once you get the hang of this technique, it will really boost your speed and comprehension, as you are now capturing more information with fewer images.

Exercises to improve encoding

Quick chunk

The exercise: Chunk faster without pausing too long on a group of words.

If you’re using chunking as your speed reading method of choice, then you can practice mental strength by chunking faster than you can create a visual for your group of words. The quick chunks will allow you to eliminate pauses which occur often due to an image being visualized. It will also help getting from the ‘Abstract’ state to the ‘Image’ state a lot quicker.

5 seconds per page

The exercise: Read 5 seconds per page and use the Keyword Map tool together. You will find that you’ll be able to summarize a whole chapter and get quite a bit of information out of it in only minutes.

To read 5 seconds per page does not really utilize speed reading techniques. So why read 5 seconds per page? It’s to grab an idea of what the page is about. In one of my speed reading workshops I had one participant who was of a Turkish background. English was his second language. I gave him a book on how to learn Japanese. I got him to do the 5 seconds per page for the whole chapter, which was around 30 pages. He finished in around 2-3 minutes. I got him to do this with the Keyword Map tool. When it was his turn to present what the chapter was about, he described in detail what the chapter was about, what was happening and he even went on to describe what some of the words meant. All this in 3 minutes of scanning and using Keyword Map tool.

Speed guide

The exercise: Use your visual guide to move a lot further than you normally would. This allows your brain to try and catch up to where you’re pointing the guide.

The aim of this exercise is to train your brain to try and see more words at a time and increase your field of view when speed reading. If your field of view is increased, you will then be able to view more words and creates images for them a lot easier, hence read faster.

Concentration (Speed read non-stop for a certain period)
The exercise: Find your mental drain point for your normal reading time then speed read for double that time.

Ask yourself the question how long can you generally read until you start to get mentally drained? If it’s for let’s say 10 minutes, then the challenge for you is to speed read for 20 minutes. If you get drained at 20 minutes, then try 40 minutes of speed reading. This exercise is designed to help you build up concentration and remain focused.

Slow speed reading (Image visualization)

The exercise: Instead of reading a group of words at say half a second, you can now read it at possibly 10 seconds but concentrate on the story you are building. This is quite a mentally strenuous exercise that works your capability to implement the VAI principle for reading. Do this well and you will find yourself increasing comprehension much faster as you speed read a lot quicker.

We understand that speed reading is reading images and we naturally view images a lot faster than we do with individual words, hence as a result we read faster. Slow speed reading exercise is using speed reading techniques to focus on developing the images a lot clearer and with more depth.

For an extra challenge: Try slow speed reading for twice as long as your brain will allow you as you normally would read. This is what I call a ‘mental boot camp’.

Listening to audio

I love listening to books on Audible. I can crank up the speed to 2.5 or 3x and encode the content really quickly visually. I can finish a 6/7-hour book in a couple of hours with good comprehension which is nice. (Years of memory training definitely helped here). However, you don’t need to have years of training. Just practicing the speed reading techniques for audio and persisting will help you read better visually. Try this as an exercise and see how you go.

 
 

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4 Easy Ways To Brain Training Kids

 

Kids are amazing. They are like little sponges that soak up information really quickly. Their imaginations are very vivid. Just ask them questions about something they don’t know or you think they may not know and observe what they say. One day my wife was driving the kids somewhere and our son said to her, ‘Mum, are we going to go past the big steering wheel?’ My wife clicked on to what he meant. He was referring to the Ferris wheel in the city. It did not even occur to me to connect steering wheel and Ferris wheel, yet this little five-year-old did. Their minds work instinctively in extraordinary ways.

1. The linking game

This is a game I used to play with my daughter years ago to build up her skills in making associations from simple images. It provides practice in the VAI memory principle. For example, I would say a random word such as ‘frog’ and then another word ‘table’ and then get my daughter to make up a story with those two words. The linking game helps develop imagination and creativity and is easy to play anywhere.

2. Story making

If you’re reading to your child, a great way to build up their creativity is to get them to tell you the story without reading, just by looking at the images. Even though it won’t be the same as the written story, you will be amazed at what kids can describe and think of. This can even be done over and over with the same material so the child can learn how to create something new from something they already know.

3. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a great tool for kids to learn and they enjoy the process. One way to use it is to connect their drawings to words. One of my clients had brought in their six-year-old son who was on medication for ADHD and had been told his memory wasn’t very good after being assessed at school. After a few weeks showing him and his parents how mind mapping can be used to connect both sides of the brain, his whole learning pattern changed and he gradually got better and better at school.

4. Speed reading

Teach your child to read with their finger. It is an essential skill and will help them to focus and prepare for real speed reading techniques when they are older. It will assist them to form images when they are older so they can quickly progress to reading in large chunks. If they can read, then the next step is to teach them to chunk two words at a time and to try and visualise them rather than read them. If they practise this, they will be speed reading with enhanced comprehension at a very young age.

(Excerpt from the book, ‘The Yellow Elephant’)

 

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