What is Working Memory? - Exceed in Learning

What is Working Memory?

Mindful Child

Parents and educators around the world are still feeling the negative outcomes of the global pandemic and the effect it has had on how kids learn. It’s no surprise that the pandemic has taken a toll on our ability to concentrate and remember things successfully.  The ability to hold information and focus is called working memory. Working memory is like a temporary storage space for information and plays an important role in learning and problem-solving. But with all the uncertainty and stress brought on by the pandemic, many kids have found it challenging to keep their focus sharp and this can lead to frustration and low self-esteem. But don’t fret!  In this blog, I will share a few strategies to enhance and increase your child’s working memory and self-confidence.

Practice Mindfulness

Having your child practice mindfulness exercises such as yoga, blowing bubbles, coloring and deep breathing daily can help them manage their stress and improve their cognitive functioning.  Mindfulness activities help kids develop self-awareness, focus and regulate their emotions. Not only that, techniques such as these cultivate inner peace and resilience. 

There are many online resources for mindfulness activities.  Many local libraries and community parks and recreation departments also offer mindfulness programs for kids.

Physical Exercise

Regular physical activity like walking has been shown to have positive effects on cognitive function, including working memory. While on a walk with your child, take a few minutes to be completely silent and pay attention to all the sounds around you.  After the walk, talk about what you heard and how that made you feel.  Physical activity can improve a child’s ability to stay focused and concentrate, which will lead to better performance in tasks that require the use of working memory. 

Break Down Tasks

When asking your child to complete a complex task, show them how to break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if your child has to clean their room (and for some, this can be a huge task), help them prioritize the job.  What part of the task should they tackle first?  Have them create a to do or priorities list and check off items as they accomplish them.  Doing this can make it easier to retain and work with the information and helps them feel successful. 

Praise Their Effort

Encourage your child’s efforts and celebrate their progress in improving their working memory. Every step in the process matters. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to boost motivation and self-esteem, especially when tasks seem challenging. 

In a nutshell, COVID-19 has surely put our working memory to the test, but with some perseverance, creativity, and support, kids can power through and come out stronger on the other side.