There are lots of good reasons to use your hands, and kids with a certain finger length do better on tests. Now there’s ANOTHER reason that hands are important for learning. Ever forget where you parked the car? It’s a trick that works for adults too.

In, Melinda Wenner reports that “Children [who are] taught to gesture with their hands as they learn new concepts perform far better at solving similar problems weeks later than children who don’t gesture.” Psychologist Susan Wagner Cook divided 84 third and fourth grade students into three groups. The first group was taught to say the problems aloud as they solved them. The second group was taught to say them AND gesture at the same time. The third group was taught to only gesture. Wenner reports that “those who were taught to gesture and speak through the problems remembered 92% of what they had previously learned, and those who gestured without speaking remembered 80% [while the] non-gesturing students remembered only 33%.”

This is a technique that those of us who are past school age also can adopt. When you park your car, say (out loud), “I?m on the 5th floor.” It will help even more if you make up a short sentence about the number five, such as “Five is the fun floor.” Then make a gesture?perhaps by creating a “five” by spreading out your fingers and ‘counting” each finger by touching them, one by one, with a finger on the other hand. Chances are good that you’ll remember where you parked when you return to the garage a couple of hours later.

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