5 Ways to Improve Working Memory and Planning Skills

From preparing for tests, to staying on top of obligations and assignments, Planning and Working Memory skills play a big role in kids’ day-to-day lives. These skills help kids think about how to complete a task before attempting to begin it, recall and use relevant information while in the middle of an activity, and prepare and properly plan out strategies to accomplish their goals.

Academically, Working Memory plays a powerful role in reading comprehension, phonological awareness, and math, while Planning becomes an increasingly crucial skill as students move into higher grades, as they must juggle multiple classes and exams together with a variety of short, and long-term projects.

Below, you’ll find some general tips and strategies to help develop and reinforce these skills.

5 Ways to Improve Working Memory and Planning Skills

  • Simplify directions as much as possible. Your child will be more likely to recall short, simple, and direct instructions. For example, saying, “When you have finished those two math worksheets, you may watch one episode of the ‘The Simpsons’” is much more direct than saying, “When you finish your homework, you can watch some TV.”
  • Create a master calendar of events to help your child plan ahead. Your child can personalize this calendar with pictures, graphics, stickers, or doodles, and should include important events, meetings, games, and deadlines.
  • Use visual reminders, such as drawings, photographs, or colorful pictures, for sequential tasks. These visual reminders may serve to enhance Working Memory. Taking photographs of your child’s pajamas, toothbrush, and washcloth and then posting these pictures in his bedroom may help them to remember the sequential bedtime series of changing into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and washing their face.
  • Create checklists with your child of items needed for various activities and events. For example, a checklist for baseball practice might include a bat bag, baseball bat, glove, hat, cleats, and water bottle. These lists can be posted in their room or where the equipment for a given activity is kept.
  • Make homework a part of your family’s regular routine by establishing a consistent schedule. If necessary, divide homework time into two blocks (one after school, one after dinner), and have your child identify what they hope to complete during each block.

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