Working Memory is the thinking skill that focuses on memory-in-action: the ability to remember and use relevant information while in the middle of an activity. For example, a child is using their Working Memory as they recall the steps of a recipe while cooking a favorite meal. Children who have trouble with their Working Memory skills will often have difficulty remembering their teachers’ instructions, recalling the rules to a game, or completing other tasks that involve actively calling up important information. Video games can help improve Working Memory by allowing kids to practice their memory skills while in the midst of a fun and immersive gaming experience. Many games require that the player learn and repeatedly recall information in order to succeed and advance to higher levels.
Watch the video to learn more about how video games can help your child improve their Working Memory thinking skill.
Working Memory is a crucial skill that affects every area of a child’s life. This skill allows a child to recall and utilize information while performing an activity. It is vital to activities like taking notes, following multi-step directions, and completing complex mathematical calculations. Working Memory also plays an important role in reading comprehension.
There is convincing research demonstrating that early training in thinking, executive, and learning skills improves long-term academic performance. The choice to teach thinking skills rather than academics to kindergarteners results in improved performance in mathematics and reading for middle school students and beyond. In other words, for children to grow up to become accomplished readers and mathematicians, more time should be spent teaching thinking skills to kindergarteners and first graders.
Working memory is perhaps the most important thinking skill for academic performance. Verbal working memory plays a powerful role in reading comprehension, phonological awareness, and completing math word problems. Visual working memory is often significantly impaired in children who struggle in the area of mathematics.
Playing video games, searching the Internet, trying out the newest app, or Facebooking a friend demands a variety of Thinking Skills. Proficiency with any of these digital tools requires the ability to apply skills such as Planning, Organization, Working Memory, or Self-Awareness. For children, the attraction of video games and technologies makes them an ideal teaching tool for practicing game-based skills and learning to apply them to school and daily activities.
Working Memory is a skill that is routinely applied in many video games, ranging from simple tasks, such as recalling which buttons to push on a controller, to more complex games where recalling the layout of previous levels in a game world are crucial to future success. Games often require that players retrace their steps in a game in order to go back to a place to find new weapons, gadgets, or spells that they did not pick up initially.
Interactive digital media and apps can be great tools to support children with Working Memory deficits. Rather than having to keep every piece of information in their head, it is very easy for a child to transfer what they need to remember to an electronic device. This requires that the child masters the app, automatically inputs what she needs, and most importantly, that she has regular access to it.
Interactive digital media can be a great asset for supporting Working Memory deficits. Electronic to-do lists can help when children have a series of activities they need to complete. Speech-recognition software can be a fantastic tool for children who cannot hold information in their minds long enough to write it down physically but can speak it clearly enough to complete a writing assignment.
Working memory is a core component of most theories of executive functioning. Working memory is defined as the capacity to keep information in mind as one is actively doing something (working) with it. For children, this is easily identified when they are attempting to solve a mathematics word problem in which they need to remember the numbers they have heard, think about what the word problem has asked them to solve, and then apply the mathematical operations to the information they have stored in memory. For adults, working memory problems can often be observed when we walk to the kitchen to get something, only to stare blankly at the refrigerator, unable to recall what it is we went to get.
Working memory plays a major role in the capacity to sustain attention and, as a result, is now considered to be a core component in our definitions of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Working memory also plays a role in other executive functions, being an important component of planning and sustaining one’s effort and attention to complete a goal.
As an executive function, working memory is also evident in individuals’ capacity to follow multi-step directions. This is important to recognize, as children who are asked to get their backpacks, jackets, and lunches prior to going to school may struggle with working memory when they forget one or two of these items.
Assessing the executive function of working memory in children involves understanding the capacity to follow multi-step directions and to use their previous experiences in memory for daily routines. The LearningWorks for Kids Thinking Skills Assessment is based on the Executive Skills Questionnaire (ESQ), which primarily measures working memory in terms of how it impacts performance in school and the recall of routines. These include concerns regarding forgetfulness; the capacity to recall a sequence of directions or activities; or academic difficulty in areas such as note taking; writing in an organized, systematic, and coherent fashion; or reading comprehension.
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