Brain in bulb

Working memory

Working Memory is very important basic mental skill for use in our daily life, as well as the life of a child. Working memory is a cognitive system with a limited capacity that is responsible for temporarily holding information available for processing.  Working memory is key to learning as it helps kids hold on to information long enough to use it and plays an important role in concentration and following of instructions.

There are some lovely, practical Working-memory boosters on www.understood.org which are worth a read.  Here are a few ideas of how to build memory boosters into your daily life discussed on that website.

  1. Work on visualization skills.

Encourage your child to create a picture in their mind of what they have just read or heard. For example, if you’ve told your daughter to set the table for five people, ask her to come up with a mental picture of what the table should look like.

  1. Have your child teach you.

Being able to explain how to do something involves making sense of information and mentally filing it. If your child is learning a skill, ask her to teach it to you.

  1. Play cards.

Simple card games like Crazy Eights, Uno, Go Fish can improve working memory in two ways. Your child must keep the rules of the game in mind and also remember what cards they have and which cards other people have played.

  1. Make it multisensory.

Processing information in as many ways as possible can help with working memory and long-term memory. Write tasks down so your child can look at them. Say them out loud so your child can hear them. Toss a ball back and forth while you discuss the tasks your child needs to complete. Using multisensory strategies can help your child keep information in mind long enough to use it. Try it out this week, you may even find that your own memory will improve during the process.

  1. Encourage active reading.

There’s a reason highlighters and sticky notes are so popular! Jotting down notes and underlining or highlighting text can help kids keep the information in mind long enough to answer questions about it. Talking out loud and asking questions about the reading material can also help with this. Active reading strategies can help with forming long-term memories too.

  1. Break information into smaller bites.

Ever wonder why phone numbers have hyphens in them? Because it’s easier to remember a few small groups of numbers, than it is to remember one long string of numbers. Keep this in mind when you need to give your child multi-step directions. Write them down or give them one at a time. You can also use graphic organizers to help break writing assignments into smaller pieces.

  1. Help make connections.

Help your child form associations that connect the different details he’s trying to remember. Grab your child’s interest with fun mnemonics like Roy G. Biv. (Thinking about this name can help kids remember the order of the colors in the rainbow).  Finding ways to connect information helps with forming and retrieving long-term memory. It also helps with working memory, which is what we use to hold and compare new and old memories.

Memory-boosting tricks and games are just some of the ways to help your child with executive functioning issues. If your child continues to have significant difficulties with working memory, it might be a good idea to get an evaluation for possible attention issues.

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