There are many highly effective ways to build your child’s Working Memory skills to help with reading, math, attention, and studying. However, it may be more important to know what, when, how, why, and where to apply these working memory skills than to have a pocket full of strategies. A metacognitive approach in which reflecting and considering how best to remember something can be the optimal first step. Whether you want to encourage your child to use sticky notes, keep an agenda, learn mnemonic strategies, or apply visualization techniques, get her to think about what method will work best in common situations at home and at school.
Tips to Build Your Child’s Working Memory Skills:
1.) Learn the facts. Knowledge about what we mean by Working Memory generates the power to employ it. Parents and children should learn about what Working Memory is and how it is important in learning, why they should want to improve it, and how to have the motivation to make gains. Help your child to understand how working memory can assist her in following directions, remembering where her homework or favorite jeans are, and improving reading comprehension so she can remember something the first time she reads it.
2.) Remember when you need to remember. It’s not enough to have strategies that build your child’s working-memory skills; you will need to teach her when to use them effectively. Show her how to recognize and anticipate situations when she will need to remember things and to employ her strategies. For example, teach her to take time to make a written list or to ask for one or two instructions at a time to help her remember when given a long list of items to complete. Help her to think about how she can use memory strategies when she needs to have a note or a permission slip in order to go on a school trip.
3.) Understand the benefits. Ask how working memory helped your child in a favorite activity. Build her working-memory skills by helping her to see how working memory was important in a complicated but engaging activity such as building a model, designing an art project, or beating a difficult video game. She will be more likely to be able to reflect on using working-memory skills in other areas when she can identify how holding information in mind allowed her to be successful in something she enjoyed.
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4.) Use lists. Create lists of situations where working memory is needed. Discuss in advance a variety of situations where working-memory skills will be needed and then strategize about how to pay attention and recall the necessary information. Some children benefit from creating a visual list that could be constructed using a digital camera to provide both accessible digital representation and a hard copy that could be posted. List could include bedroom supplies for getting ready for school in the morning, equipment bags for sports or music practice, items needed for homework completion, and routine chores such as cleaning one’s bedroom or mowing the lawn.
5.) Make the academic connection. Ask your child to consider why working memory and other memory skills help in school subjects. For example, long-term memory helps in recall about historical facts, short-term memory helps in remembering formulae, and working memory helps with reading comprehension and math word problems. However, recognizing how important memory is for learning at school is more important than understanding the differences amongst these types of memory.