memory and learning

You may be familiar with long term memory and short term memory. But did you know that there is also working memory? Working memory is essential in learning and in many school activities and tasks such as reading, calculating or understanding instructions. How does it work? What is it for? Can we “train” it?

working memory

Working memory is a relatively new concept that emerged during memory research. It is, in a way, a clarification of the concept of short-term memory.

Short-term memory stores information for a few seconds while working memory stores it for a few seconds while performing other tasks. For example, listening to a sequence of numbers and then repeating them requires short-term memory. Listening to them and repeating them backwards requires your working memory.

Working memory must therefore keep information ready for use and manipulation. When we make a sustained effort, working memory helps sustain attention and resist distractions.

It therefore plays an important role in learning and in a host of operations and activities such as reading, arithmetic, reading comprehension, language learning and problem solving.

“Develop” your working memory

Since working memory is of paramount importance, how can it be improved? Although recent studies do not all come to the same conclusions about the effectiveness of working memory training, many studies confirm that you could train your working memory, like an athlete!

To do this, here are some exercises to do at home:

Mental calculations: The parent says 3 numbers aloud. The child must, for example, add the first two, then subtract the 3rd digit from the total. We can also ask the child to count by leaps of 3 or 4, starting from a random number.

Recite backwards: Ask the child to spell vocabulary words backwards, or do the same with a sequence of numbers, letters or words.

Listen to a story to answer a question: Before reading a story, the parent chooses a question for the child to answer. For example, counting the number of characters or finding the color of the main character’s hat. This exercise will work not only working memory, but also concentration and reading comprehension.

Memory games: Memory games with cards (where identical cards are associated) or of the “In my suitcase, I bring…” type (where everyone adds an object to bring and must remember the list of previous objects ) help boost short-term memory.

“N-back” game: Using a deck of cards, identify a target card (a color, a number, etc.) and play the cards one after the other. When the target card comes out, the child must name the previous card, or even the penultimate one.

Tips and Strategies

When the exercises are not sufficient, it is sometimes necessary to resort to other compensatory strategies.

Break up the task: Working memory can be quickly overloaded. When there is too much information, the brain can no longer process it! This is why we first try to reduce the number of instructions given, by dividing the task into several stages.

Repeat: Have him repeat in his head the information to remember, for example the pages of the exercise to complete when the teacher says them.

Make groupings: It is easier to remember, for example, three groups of digits than seven separate digits, as when remembering a telephone number. Similarly, it is easier to categorize the elements to remember. In order to memorize the vocabulary words under study, we can group the words according to certain similarities: two words begin with “a”, three with “n”, two words end in “ion”, three are elements of geography , and two are related to temperature.

Use checklists: For example, in the form of checklists or checklists. Thus, we release some of the mental load to better focus on a given task. During an exam:

I reread myself ten minutes before

Use rhythm, rhymes and songs. These techniques allow the long-term integration of information and the creation of reflexes and automatisms. One can, for example, “sing” the conjugations of a verb.

Use tables and memory cards, personalized dictionaries and graphic organizers (table, diagram, organization chart, diagram). Thanks to these tools, part of the memorization effort is thus eliminated.

Mathieu has great difficulty writing a story. Juggling between the formulation of ideas, the structure of the story and the writing of words, sentences and paragraphs is very difficult for him. The graphic organizer helps him visually structure his story and his plot, because he writes the name of the characters, the actions, the twists, and the conclusion. This frees up some of the thinking, which allows him to concentrate on writing the sentences.

By suggesting different strategies to the child, we help him discover the ones that suit him best. He can thus target those that are the most effective in stimulating his working memory!

By admin

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