Teaching my daughter to remember those ten digits was becoming the most abstract chore of my life with her so far. She’s five now and her doctor recommended that I teach it to her. However, my daughter’s understanding of how a phone works is very different from what any now-mom grew up with. To my daughter, a phone is a device where you tap on a person’s face and a live video feed appears and you begin shouting and dancing for the person on the other end of the line. She is only just beginning to hold the phone to say hello when I’m on a call with someone she knows, and before I started writing this post, she had never dialed a phone number.We made up rhymes about it and tried setting it to a melody. Nothing worked. It wasn’t sticking. Mostly, it wasn’t sticking because we would move on to other things. It wasn’t sticking because it wasn’t happening quickly enough for her usual rate of learning. Memorizing a long number like that was not in her realm of interests, so to speak. And let’s point out that growing up, we only had to memorize seven numbers in sequence and now she has to learn ten. Not that big a deal, it’s just a couple of numbers, but the average capacity of our short-term memory is seven unrelated items. So how could I get her to remember my phone number?
She was going to have to use it. Daily. Or she would never commit it to memory. That’s when I got my bright idea. I will program it into her iPad as a passcode! She will have to remember my number if she wants to unlock it! Read more about custom passcodes for iOS here.
As great as my idea was, it quickly turned into me standing nearby, answering her every time she asked me, “What’s the next number?” Or shouting up from the bottom of the stairs as she called down to me, “What’s the next number?” Or… you get the picture.
That’s when I added a sticker to the back of her iPad that had my full phone number printed on it. I grouped the numbers in the normal way, three-three-four. Things got quiet then and by the time my husband got home an hour later, she showed him how she had memorized the ten-digit secret code that would unlock her iPad.
Now, when I first got this idea, I automatically assumed that my daughter would be so mad that I put a code on her device. The reality was quite the opposite. She is thrilled to have a secret code on her iPad, go figure! It also keeps her pesky little sister from accessing the device which is a bonus for everyone except the little sister.
Now that she’s got the number memorized, I feel confident that if we are ever separated while out and about she will be able to recite the number to a kind stranger so they can call me. The next step is to teach her to dial the number herself.