One of the most common learning issues affecting children in the US is by far working memory problems. Working memory problems usually affect children with AD/HD, dyspraxia or dyslexia, but might appear on their own as well.
Grasping the concept of working memory difficulties can be difficult for some parents who don’t even understand the concept of working memory. Therefore, they don’t always understand the extent to which working memory difficulties can affect their kids’ learning process.
In order to educate parents on what working memory difficulties are and how they can affect their children, we’ve compiled this article breaking down the problem.
What is Working Memory?
Memory is the foundation of our natural learning process. By remembering all visual, auditory, tactile and other sensations our brain can analyze them and form its own conclusions, such as the stove is hot and should not be touched. Children in school need to memorize dates, facts, numbers, word spelling, grammar rules and other information they need to process in order to learn.
Working memory temporarily stores and processes the information before it’s passed on. This is the type of information that we don’t need to remember for good, just short term. Since short-term memory is limited, that’s where working memory comes into play.
If your child has working memory difficulties, their attention span and concentration may suffer. Children with these difficulties are often easily sidetracked and don’t have a clear train of thought. These difficulties can make it hard for children to keep information and follow instructions. This can affect their performance in school, and depending on how understanding the school staff is you might need help from agencies like Pacific Coast Advocates to represent your child.
What are the First Signs My Child May Have Working Memory Difficulties?
As we age our working memory capacity increases, so some tasks may not be suited for younger kids, difficulties or not. So asking a three-year-old to remember a long list of terms or items is not a good way to determine whether they have working memory difficulties or not.
Your children’s teachers may point out that they are not paying attention to them or wander off in the classroom too often. And while you might often dismiss that as “kids will be kids”, their absent-mindedness may be a sign of working memory difficulties.
Some of the issues that might indicate your child has working memory difficulties include:
Difficulty handling tasks
When your child’s working memory is overloaded by all the rules and instructions from their teachers, they might have trouble tackling tasks in the classroom, even if they are a simple one or two step tasks. The best way children can cope with this is to ask if they are not sure what instructions to follow or copy what their peers are doing.
Slow to Copy Information from the Board or Take Notes
Another potential sign of working memory difficulties is when children are slow to copy the information their teachers wrote on the board as they often come back to the previous sentence they wrote. This is especially visible in younger children who also have to cope with the spelling.
The same goes for taking notes in class once they grow up. Therefore, these children may miss out on important information conveyed by the teacher, which can affect their grades and more importantly, the learning process.
They Don’t Speak Up Much
Children with working memory difficulties come off as shy and are not too keen on answering the question in class. They could have trouble remembering the question or the topic currently discussed in the classroom.
What Can You Do About Working Memory Difficulties?
Many studies have shown children with working memory difficulties can catch up with the rest of the children with the help of both parents and teachers. Children should be educated about how the issue might affect their learning and teachers should make sure to limit any distractions and limit the number of tasks they are given.
Most importantly, encourage your children to ask questions whenever they need to clear something up and teach them useful memory strategies such as chunking or mnemonics.