Working memory is the ability to hold key information in mind to complete a task.
Children with poor working memory have trouble remembering instructions, even when it is repeated. They have to be reminded about longer-term assignments, find it difficult to remember simple tasks, especially if instructions are elaborate. They tend to lose the concentration easily and have problems focusing on taking in and understanding information.
Good working memory has many benefits as it supports performance in a variety of areas. It is linked to improved problem-solving, insight, development of strategies, comprehension, and learning. A child with improved working memory will also experience a better ability to focus, resist distractions, and control impulses. They remember instructions and directions better, which enable them to plan and prioritize more efficiently.
What do I do to help my child improve her/his working memory skill?
Select one or two issues that your teen frequently experience related to working, or short-term, memory. Maybe it is not remembering assignments, instructions, or chores. Perhaps she is easily distracted or not paying attention. Define the issues that need improvement as specific as possible, noting the frequency, severity, and consequences. Also, consider whether there is a common antecedent or trigger, what the typical situation is and who is involved. Formulate a goal for each issue. Break it up into smaller goals if possible.
Before you start with the intervention, sit down with your child and explain the problem, process, and importance of achieving the goals that you have set. Ask your child for input in setting goals and plans for improvement. Make him or her feel empowered in the process. The improvement of working memory is a practical process that has to be constantly practiced. When the routines that are being followed be-come a habit, improvements will be noticeable in almost every child, but especially those who required improvement in this area.
The easiest way to improve working memory is through memorizing, association, note-taking, and visual and emotional cues.
- Cue your child to pay attention to what is important.
- Ask her to take notes when you give important instructions or information.
- Encourage her to make emotional or visual connections to something that she has to remember, for example: finding a reason to be brave in a historical event.
- Working memory is strongly connected to a healthy lifestyle—feed the brain with healthy food, rest, exercise, and supplements.
- Ask her to teach/present the information back to you.
- Encourage her to make associations between parts of information or a routine as grouping items into categories improve later recall.
Utilize these techniques every time that you share something important with your child. Make sure to quiz him or her before a test and practice associations with the difficult parts. Making summaries, notes, diagrams, or mind maps of information is the most helpful. Remember to monitor your child’s progress and provide feedback.