Working Memory Strategies to Improve Kid’s Learning Ability

Working Memory can determine the academic achievement of a child according to Dr Tracy Alloway. Neither family social economic background nor the educational level of the child’s mother determines a child learning ability. Most researchers believe it is genetic.

Working memory is the ability to hold an amount of information in the brain at the same time and use this information for a short period. You can simply think of it to be similar to RAM (Random Access Memory) of a computer. It is a measurement of our ability to learn.

How to train child's working memory to improve academic level.
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Working Memory Strategies and Training

Parents can help to train a child working memory. These strategies can be used to improve a child learning ability.

1. Give simplify instruction - If you want your child to take off his clothes, put it in the laundry basket and take his bath, tell him each instruction separately. Upon he completed one of the tasks, and then tells him the next. You can move on to give three instructions at one go if he can take two instructions and complete two tasks at the same time.

2. Chunk information - Let the child learn five words per day instead of 20 words at one go. Increase the number of words per day as he improves. I tried this method on my son and I can see the improvement in his school work.

3. Use memory aids – Children need help to recall information. Memory aids such as printed notes and number lines can be useful. Such learning aids also help them to learn and understand information better since majority of people learn better visually. Mathematics manipulative comes in handy to teach kids to understand and recall math facts. 

4. Repeat important information frequently – Adopt the “over learn” approach. Constant practice and repetitive of key concept helps to reinforce the important information a child needs to grasp.

5. Train your child memory - Take him along for shopping and get him to remember your shopping list. You can also play some memory games such as:

  • Matching cards
    Place a stack of cards face down. Each take turns to turn up two cards. If two cards match, then player will get to keep the cards.
  • Scavenger hunt
    Write down a list of items. Let your kid hunt for the list of items.
  • Cover and list items
    Show several toys on bed to your child. Cover the toys with a blanket after one minute. Get your child to tell what the items are.

6. Encourage child to ask for help – Children may not be able to follow the pace in a class. Encourage child to ask teacher to repeat information given or help.


Deficiency Symptoms

There are many children with working memory deficiency. Some of the symptoms include:
- Unable to focus on task; easily distracted.
- Cannot remember instruction to complete work.
- Difficulty to recall facts and ideas being taught.
- Difficulty copying from the board; often miss out letters/words in sentences
- Poor academic progress in reading and math


Many times, when children shows the above symptoms, they are labeled as lazy or slow learner by teachers or/and parents. If the child is in the typical Asian Chinese education system, teachers and parents will drill them continuously with more schoolwork or reprimand them when the child cannot produce satisfactory academic results. This can be very disheartening to the kid. It is not his fault though he may be trying his best. It becomes very frustrating for everyone.


Apply these strategies on a child who shows the above signs. There is no cure for such deficiency. A child lacks behind his peers as he progresses in his academic career. We can only help the child to improve his learning ability.

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