Easy Ways to Improve Working Memory for Kids and Teens

Okay, I’ve got it. This will be easy to remember. Wait, what was that first part again? And then what? Argh!

Does this sound like you? Do you hear or read something and think, “The quiz will be so easy!” or “Homework won’t be so bad,” only to find that when you try to answer questions or explain things you just can’t remember what you thought you could?

You aren’t alone. Some kids and teens can only hold a few things in their minds before they start forgetting something. And it might make you feel better to know that it’s possible to get better at remembering. Here are a few easy ways to improve working memory skills.

Chunk it. Really. You cut the things you need to do or remember into chunks. For example, make it a habit to repeat “backpack, lunch, phone,” before you leave for school every morning. Pretty soon these three words become just one reminder rather than three. This works even better when you add “dance” moves. Tap your pocket where you put your phone and keys and reach up to your shoulder to touch your backpack. If you’re chunking to remember something for school, try making a word or a sentence out of first letters to make a group of things easier to remember. The major planets in our solar system, for instance, are often remembered in order with a sentence (called a mnemonic device) like “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles.”

Storify. Lots of people find that creating some meaning between the things that they want to remember helps. Maybe you need to remember all the countries in South America. Try making up a story about touring the continent. “We ate apples in Argentina, went bowling in Bolivia, took a break in Brazil…”

Keep a number in mind. For example, if you have homework in three subjects tonight, just remember the number three and use that to help you remember which subjects you need to study. For ingredients in a recipe, you can remember the number of items and that’ll help you to make sure that you have all of what you need.


Feature image: Flickr user Petra Bensted

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