Working memory enables students to learn and follow directions, and it is essential that they practice strategies designed to improve this crucial mental aspect. If you're unsure whether your child struggles with his working memory, consider whether he has a hard time
keeping one bit of information in mind while completing another task. For example, if he's helping you make spaghetti and the phone rings, does he forget he needs to go back and keep stirring the sauce after he hangs up the phone? The good news is that you can help your child improve this executive function by building some working memory boosters into his daily life, such as:
. Visualization is the process of creating mental or physical images of what you read or hear.
By integrating visual imagery with written language, an individual can more efficiently process, comprehend, and retrieve information. If your child is reading a book for school, ask him to choose a scene and draw it; he should pull evidence from the text about colors, backgrounds, sizes, and more to ensure his depiction is accurate. Not only is this strategy fun, it offers your child a concrete way to gauge his understanding of the material and is something he can refer to at a later time.
Have your child teach you.
It has often been said that you don't know a topic well enough until you are able to teach it to someone else. Having your child teach you what he is currently learning will help him make sense of the information and also help him mentally file it away for later use. This is also a good strategy to help him take a slower, more methodical approach to the material since he will need to explain it step-by-step.
As unorthodox as it may sound, playing card games can actually help improve your child's working memory. Simple card games like Crazy Eights, Uno, Go Fish, and War can improve working memory because your child has to not only keep the rules of the game in mind, but he also has to remember what cards he has and which ones other people have played. This could be a fun way of working towards strengthening working memory without it being a chore for your child.
It's easier to remember smaller groups of information than it is to remember big pieces. Give your child a large amount of directions or tasks, such as instructions to make dinner or a grocery list, and show him how to identify the similarities between certain items so that he can chunk them together. Helping your child break big amounts of information into small, bite-sized pieces will help him process the information better and more efficiently.
. While it may be difficult to spell "mnemonics," they're a handy tool that can improve memory because it's easier to recall pieces of information if they are associated with songs, rhymes, or acronyms. Help your child form associations that connect the different details he's trying to remember, and point out mnemonics he likely already knows, like "Roy G. Biv" or "PEMDAS." Finding ways to connect information helps with forming and retrieving that material at a later time.
Add exercise to their daily routine. Some studies have shown that working memory increases with daily exercise. While the reasons for this aren't fully understood, scientists believe physical activity improves the health of brain cells. It can also indirectly affect memory by improving mood, helping you sleep better, and reducing stress - areas that can affect cognitive abilities.
Make a study schedule.
For your child to effectively utilize strategies to prepare for an upcoming assessment, it's crucial that he budget enough time to adequately study. Helping your child make a study schedule will enable him to review a little bit of information each day, which will facilitate his ability to visualize it, make an acronym, create a connection, and more!