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Working Memory Boosters

workingmemory328Does your child have a hard time keeping one bit of information in mind while he’s doing something else? For example, if he’s helping make spaghetti and the phone rings, does he forget he needs to go back and keep stirring the sauce? If he often has trouble with such tasks, he might have working memory issues.

Working memory refers to the manipulation of information that short-term memory stores. (In the past, the term “working memory” was used interchangeably with the term “short-term memory.”) It’s a skill kids use to learn. It’s needed for tasks like following multi-step directions or solving a math problem in your head.

You can help your child improve this executive function by building some working memory boosters into his daily life.

Understood contributor Amanda Morin, parent advocate, former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education offers suggestions for improving working memory, such as:

Work on visualization skills.

Encourage your child to create a picture in his mind of what he’s just read or heard. For example, if you’ve told him to set the table for five people, ask him to come up with a mental picture of what the table should look like. Then have him draw that picture. As he gets better at visualizing, he can describe the image to you instead of needing to draw it.

 Suggest games that use visual memory.

There are lots of matching games that can help your child work on visual memory. You can also do things like give your child a magazine page and ask him to circle all instances of the word the or the letter a in one minute. You can also turn license plates into a game. Take turns reciting the letters and numbers on a license plate and then saying them backwards, too.

Chunk information into smaller bites.

Ever wonder why phone numbers and social security numbers have hyphens in them? Because it’s easier to remember a few small groups of numbers than it is to remember one long string of numbers. Keep this in mind when you need to give your child multi-step directions. Write them down or give them one at a time. You can also use graphic organizers to help break writing assignments into smaller pieces.

Make it multisensory.

Processing information in as many ways as possible can help with working memory and long-term memory. Write tasks down so your child can look at them. Say them out loud so your child can hear them. Toss a ball back and forth while you discuss the tasks your child needs to complete. Using multisensory strategies can help your child keep information in mind long enough to use it.

Excerpted from “8 Working Memory Boosters” on Understood.  Read the full article to learn more tips on ways to boost working memory.  Understood.org’s goal is to help the millions of parents whose children, ages 3–20, are struggling with learning and attention issues. Visit the Understood website for more information.

Source: Understood | 8 Working Memory Boosters, https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/homework-study-skills/8-working-memory-boosters | Copyright © 2018 Understood.org

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We invite you to call or email our Clinical Services Coordinators at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org to set up an initial Parent Consultation appointment.

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