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Working memory: Your Brain’s Post-It Note

Working memory allows us to remember and process information. We use those little yellow slips of paper not only to jot down important information, but also to do something with it, like when we use them to write down and cross out a to-do list. In the same way, working memory allows us to make mental scribbles of multiple pieces of information we need to remember and think about. Success in the classroom means remembering and processing information. Success in the classroom means working memory. This Post-It note is the foundation for learning at school, ranging from complex subjects, such as reading comprehension, arithmetic and word problems, to simple tasks, such as copying from the board and navigating around school.

Every student with poor working memory has unique issues, but there are three main behaviours that teachers and parents can recognize:

  • The “Lost in Space” student (Difficulties remembering instructions): For children with poor working memory, their Post-It note gets easily overloaded and is not big enough to work with all the information they need to succeed.

  • The “Never-Finisher" (Difficulties finishing tasks): Children with poor Working memory need extra time to process information. Often, when they are given too many things to do in a short space of time, they can’t process the information fast enough, and they ultimately feel frustrated and unable to do it.

  • The “I Can't” Student (Difficulties getting on with a task): Children with poor working memory find it hard to switch between different things. If a task requires to juggle multiple pieces of information, it is likely that he will abandon the task because their working memory can’t cope.

If your child shows some of these working memory challenges, then one of our experienced team members can help. Contact us for more advice or support.

Some of our favourite activities to develop improving working memory are:

  • Play “Simon Says” or “Memory”

  • Play Card games like Crazy Eights, Uno, Go Fish, and War

  • Have your child teach you

  • Chunk information into smaller bits

  • Use number lines, dictionaries, wall charts

  • Work on visualization skills – create a mental picture of what they just read or saw

  • Keep a consistent routine

  • Get enough sleep

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