Linking Memory and Photographic Memory Function

For home practice, I have been working with Gavin on the random linking memory activity. He was starting to get a little bored with the activity so I threw in a few dinosaurs and it seems to have renewed his interest. He has been asking me daily for new “dinosaur” stories.

I have noticed a few things about his progress that I wanted to mention. If you are doing linking memory activities at home with your child, I hope you can share your own observations as well.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that Gavin appears to be developing a photographic memory. Although he can remember facts that he has read and exactly where the information can be found, I have noticed that his photographic memory is not complete. He remembers certain things with uncanny accuracy while other things pass him by seemingly unnoticed. What is central to his ability to recall what he has seen is his interest in the subject. Because he is interested in the subject of dinosaurs, he can remember the facts he reads about it. Other subjects that he doesn’t care for, he doesn’t appear to be able to remember as much, if at all.

This reinforces the importance of following your child’s interest. If you want to teach a specific subject to your child, it pays to take the time to ignite his interest so that he will take himself the rest of the way on the learning curve. Which leads me to a few other thoughts I have been pondering over. Because I have never had a photographic memory, I cannot speak of it from my own experience. I can only make suppositions based on what I have observed from Gavin.

Recently, I have been using the linking memory activity as a means of teaching him new material. However, I find that when I put in something unfamiliar, it is much harder for him to recall all the cards. For instance, in a recent linking memory deck, I included a picture of glow worms (as shown below) and he couldn’t remember the card because the picture made no sense to him. I have never taught him about glow worms before either so he said, “I don’t know what that is.”

It is possible that he could see the image in his head but was not able to describe it. Or he might have dismissed it altogether because it made no sense to him. It reminds me of a linking memory session in Heguru when he labelled a card with a different name. I forget exactly what it was but it was some landmark which he was unfamiliar with. The picture looked like a tower so he referred to it as a tower instead of its proper name. This would suggest that he can remember things that he sees, but not necessarily what he hears.

That leads me to the next take-home point – the importance of practicing different activities to develop the memory function as a whole. Linking memory helps to develop visual memory – photographic memory. You need to practice other activities that help to develop auditory memory. The ability of your child to develop one and/or the other may also be affected by whether he is a visual learner or an auditory learner. Obviously the preferred sense will be the type of memory they will develop more easily.

Thirdly, in an earlier post, I posted two linking memory decks – one with pictures and one with words. I thought that the cards with words could also be useful for further developing memory function. In retrospect, I think I should state that words cards should only be used on older subjects. Young children need linking memory cards with pictures or they may become frustrated by the activity (particularly if they have not learned to read). It is important to keep the game fun and entertaining so we should eliminate elements that may complicate it. You can still use the word cards for older children and strong readers.

Have you been practicing linking memory or other memory activities at home with your child? What have you observed about your child’s memory development? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

14 thoughts on “Linking Memory and Photographic Memory Function

  1. I just read from Shichida’s Chinese book that for the right brain to work, it must aim to absorb the input without questioning why. The “why” part is for the left brain and slows things down.

    Here’s our linking memory experience:
    – Vee started LM at 14 months old. He’s used to doing the activity by simply listening to the word and seeing the card. No questions asked. In our daily life, if he comes across the word or item, he’d start blurting out the LM sequence.

    Instead of random LM, I’m still following Shichida classes and materials with the non random type. We do 10 cards per day and move to a new set of 10 cards once he’s familiar with them or seems bored.

    Overall, he’s definitely better at LM than I am cos he’s using his right brains.


  2. Thanks for the information, MieVee. I think I read or heard something similar, too.

    Gavin started Heguru when he was three years old and by then the was already very logical and asking lots of “whys”. It is harder for him to accept information without questioning it. Even when I do flash cards with him at home, he has a habit of interrupting the flow with questions, thoughts and little observations of his. I have to keep telling him to wait until we’re through the deck. So perhaps this is another reason why it is better to start right brain education earlier?


  3. I don’t understand when the kid ask “why” for LM, because it is meant to be a crazy story and the child would normally laugh through to accept silliness of it, one reason perhaps is your own-made LM cards, a bit too short and not complete in terms of quality of information, the flows is not there, quite not easy to comprehend compared to Shichida’s 1000 LM cards, there the story is clearer, fun and factoring in the reasons in subtle way…….. ?????? or perhaps you wish to try other LM to see the difference.


  4. In fact I find very interesting with V, Maths is a very logical thing, she would ask why 3×5 can be 3’s 5 or 5’s 3 and why 3 power 5 is 3 x3x3x3x3 and not 3+3+3+3+3 the moment when she is asked to write out the formula, BUT she never asks me “whys” of any LM cards, any Maths equation flash cards or any flash cards in any respect shown to her, she just accept Maths flash cards and any flash cards in any manner and in big chunk, for instance she never ask the difference between inscribed and circumscribed triangles, she would accept whole, no questions asked as to “whys”. Strange ?! That is also why I always think flash card is the most effective way to convey information.

    The other best way to enhance auditory memory is to let them listen to CDs with high quality stories narrated by native speakers, listening too entails imaginative skill and develops strong focus span. Often after listening to stories played she would tell me names of characters involved and what they said in the play. Very interesting when the child narrated the story back to you.


  5. FZ – he doesn’t question LM flash cards. He loves the silly stories. I have a lot of LM stories – some follow Shichida (which I also have), some follow Memory Magic, some Heguru, and some TweedleWink. It’s a mixed bag. I like to make them random and change the story. I know LM should be as crazy as possible because that’s how you make it memorable.

    The recent cards I uploaded are just pictures and words, but you have to make up the story yourself. I didn’t want to put my story in because I think having a personalised story that you make up yourself makes it easier to remember.

    Gavin’s queries and interruptions are usually with the regular flash cards for general knowledge.


  6. Oh yes, now that you mention it… Gavin used to listen to the Thomas and Friends stories by Rev W Awdry on CD. Come to think of it, he could recite the words verbatim as well. He could remember what was coming up and which stories he liked or didn’t like, and which CD they were on (we have 6 CDs in total with almost the entire collection of his original stories). We haven’t done it in a while, but perhaps it’s time to start again with some new stories.

    Gavin used to re-enact the stories with his toy trains and he would use words from the story that are quite technical. It was quite surprising because I didn’t think he would understand them.


  7. Yes, listening, listening and listening. I recommend CDs and books by Quality English Learning. Every book comes with a CD and written by big time writers such as W Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Duma etc….not only the story is read by native speaker but also the background story, take an instance in level 1A “The True Story of Pocahontas”, besides story, the child is read the origins of Virginia, the Indian life as well as Virginia today, so it makes up more sense and meaningful when I flash US’s flags flash cards and its location to her. I never come across books so rich in context yet so inexpensive, each CD could be as short as 45 mins to as long as 75 mins and some even reach more than an hour. The entire collection has 60 books by different famous writers , 60 CDs by native speaker. Also all books have special features : KET ( Cambridge Key English Test-Style exercises), I just can’t take my eyes off these series.


  8. Definitely, a baby or toddler below 3 hasn’t start questioning much yet. It’s almost all about right brain. The left logical brain starts developing after that and it’s supposed to be time to link the right and left brain together, after completing the right brain foundational development.

    Vee’s 28 months now and I’ve about 8 months left to fully make use of. No time to slack, ha…

    And I agree with FZ regarding flashcards. It’s really a right brain activity, without giving the child time to use his left brain. The high speed and voluminous input is necessary for fire up the right brain. Then we can link the info to the left brain through other hands-on games and activities.


    1. MieVee – Yeah, I’m trying to make the most of Gareth’s time. I still do flash cards with Gavin and try to go as quickly as I can to activate his right brain. These days I tell him to wait until we’re through the deck before he asks questions. I just speed through the cards and if he wants to look over them later at his own leisure, I let him.


  9. I got them from a Chinese bookstore that I accidentally stumbled across during kid’s fair mid this year, I can only give you the contact number for KL Commercial Bookstore :- 016-6615368, located somewhere not far from KL Petaling Street.

    I suggest you to make a trip down to see by yourself quality of the books to decide, anywhere, it’s definitely worth to make a trip to this KL Bookstore.


  10. I am merely extrapolating the theory of 0-3 cut off time as mentioned by MVee. I strongly advise parents who started doing right brain activities since birth to take this period seriously, it is really no time to waste, that is this time when the child amazing potential shows once the foundation was laid ( I only speaks from experience), as I still remember clearly how V picked up her all her ???,???,12x12timetables and 105 periodic tables, 750 idiomatic experession, world and capitals, all happened at age of below 3 or slightly above 3 by just LISTENING, and V was doing all in BIG CHUNCK, in short time, really short. So when some children commercial reading centre commented that left brain kid has good listening skill that I would say : not true because toddler has the best listening skill. ( I wish the responsible child educational centre could conduct research before issuing writeup to this area, not just riding the wave of right brain education). From 0 to 3, The child was not very conversant BUT very focus. At 4 even her right brain might have alowly shifted to left, still, she is displaying amazing potential by grasping big quantity of flash cards shown and absored the information quickly, for instance 1000 LM cards, 36×36, timetables ( she did up to 25 now orally). So the crucial time really lies in 0-3.


    1. I heartily agree with you both about the 0-3 window of opportunity. I think too many parents don’t know about this because traditional information on children don’t really emphasis much about it. I think it stems from the old misconception that really young children don’t really begin to become interesting until they are older and can “learn”. I remember reading somewhere where it used to be believed that babies were just uninteresting blobs and they were waiting for them to grow up before they started to get interesting. Now we know differently – that babies are learning right from the start.

      Too many people believe that we get smarter as we get older, but they are confused with experience and wisdom. The capacity for learning will never be as great as it is in these first three years of life.


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