How to Tell if Your Child Has Poor Working Memory Skills

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Working Memory — described as the capacity for the brain to recall and use relevant information while completing a task — is an important thinking skill that has ramifications across several academic subjects. It also impacts our ability to stay organized, remain concentrated and attentive, and learn how to plan and prepare for duties and obligations.

For kids, Working Memory plays a vital role in early learning, and there are steps parents can take to improve this skill. But being able to tell whether or not your child has poor Working Memory skills isn’t always easy. Luckily, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for.

Below, you’ll find some basic observations you can make to help you understand your child’s basic Working Memory capacity, and what can be done to help improve and strengthen this vital skill.

Does Your Child Have Poor Working Memory Skills?

Kids with good Working Memory skills are commonly able to remember and follow complicated directions, and exhibit the ability to use what they have learned in a previous experience and apply it to a new situation. This means they maintain their level of engagement while performing tasks, reorganize their thoughts or materials in a fashion that encourages further learning, and are able to sustain their attention even when shifting activities within a given task.

Kids with underdeveloped Working Memory skills may only remember only the first or last things in a series of directions, exhibit difficulty with tasks that entail more than one step, forget what they are doing in the middle of doing it, and can be absent-minded and often need help from adults to remember directions. This means they may have difficulty retelling a story in their own words, or become confused when attempting to complete multi-step shoolwork like lengthy math problems.

Beyond these basic observations, there are also many online and app-based solutions for discovering your child’s Working Memory capacity. Get started by checking out an N-Back testWorking Memory Challenge or any of Ryan Atkinson’s Working Memory Workout games.

Finally, give your child’s Working Memory skills a boost — regardless of his proficiency with the skill — by implementing Pearson’s Cogmed Working Memory Training into your child’s after-school routine, which can yield considerable improvements in focus, reading and math.

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