Calgary Schools for Children with Learning Disabilities
If you live in Calgary and have a child with a learning disability, finding the right school is critical for their development. Here, we discuss memory and learning as a developmental aspect they school you to choose should address. For more on learning disabilities visit our home page.
Working memory and the learning
Working memory – what does it do, and why does it matter? The working memory (WM) also sometimes termed short-term memory is a group of mechanisms that allows us to keep our train of thought flowing. It is the mental workspace in which we manipulate information, and crunch numbers in order to plan and execute our actions.
How would you remember grocery items if you didn’t write them down?
In your head, can you add 67 and 38?
Having seen a dinner table for a moment, how would you describe the seating arrangements?
The ability to perform these tasks relies on your working memory capacity, also known as WMC. More information can be juggled by people with larger capacities. The benefit of this is well-documented, as they process information more quickly. It has also been shown that kids with high working memory capacity excel in the classroom. Working memory can also predict language skills, such as remembering complicated ideas.
Conversely, those with poor working memory skills are at a disadvantage. Mathematics and reading may seem more difficult to them. Additionally, they may find it difficult to follow spoken directions. In the midst of all of that juggling, they lose track of what’s expected of them.
Does it get better over time?
Will not children develop working memory as they grow? Indeed it develops. Research has shown steady improvement across age groups with adults achieving almost twice the level of performance as young children when the same WM tests are administered.
Adults may remember approximately 3 or 4 items in WM tasks requiring tracking items within a brief visual array. Five-year-olds may remember approximately half of that.
So, what should we do if we suspect that a child has a low working memory capacity based on their age?
How can you identify working memory issues?
In order to get a professional diagnosis, special tests need to be administered, such as the Comprehensive Assessment Battery for Children – Working Memory (CABC-WM), or the Automated Working Memory Assessment.
However, you can also look for everyday signs. A child who has difficulties with working memory may:
- tend to hold back during group activities in the classroom and do not answer direct questions;
- have trouble following instructions;
- lose track when working on complicated tasks, and may eventually abandon these tasks;
- make mistakes in place keeping (skipping or repeating steps);
- appear easily distracted and inattentive;
- have difficulty with activities that involve storing (remembering) and manipulating (informing).