Working memory and intelligence

Working memory and intelligence

memory and intelligence

Learning is influenced by working memory. Working memory helps us focus when we are distracted. There is a possibility that it can affect how well we do on IQ tests and achievement tests. However, we cannot equate WM with overall intelligence.

Let’s take the example of “fluid intelligence”. Being fluid in our thinking doesn’t simply mean retaining relevant information. The process also requires us to discard irrelevant information, or stop thinking about it.  Consequently, what matters isn’t how big our mental notepad is, but how well we fill it with the most promising data. You may not necessarily be smarter by having more WM capacity.

The working memory isn’t a unified system, and that’s an important factor to remember. WM comes in different types, and each type corresponds to a particular way of thinking.

How can parents help?

Calgary students in and out of school face problems with working memory – remembering the information needed to complete a task. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to kids, there are things parents can do and strategies they can learn to help them succeed. Finding a Calgary School for Learning Disabilities is no easy task.

Know the limits of your child

It’s a sign that your child’s working memory has reached its limit if after you give him what seems to be a reasonable set of instructions, he keeps getting off track. As you become more aware of when – and how often – he loses the thread, you will gain a better understanding of your child’s ability to retain information. As soon as you understand his limitations, you can give him directions in an effective manner.

Consider breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, for example, if your child finds it difficult to follow multi-step directions:

The last thing you should do is give a string of instructions, such as “Put your bike back in the garage, wash your hands and change your clothes. And let your sister know dinner is ready.”

Instead, you should focus on one task at a time: “We will have dinner soon. Please put your bike back in the garage.  Let me know when you’re finished and I’ll let you know what to do next.

You have to break it down

The schoolwork that appears simple on the surface may actually require a great deal of working memory. It often results in sloppy work – or unfinished work – and creates anxiety when kids attempt to do too much at once. You and your child can break down the assignment into manageable parts by separating the micro-tasks.

Writing an essay, for example, makes use of your child’s working memory to recall information, create and organize ideas, and even ensure his writing is legible. His mental scratchpad may become cluttered when trying to think through everything at once. Rather, encourage him to take a step at a time:

  • Brainstorm and jot down major ideas
  • Write a thesis statement based on the information you have gathered
  • Provide an overview of the structure
  • Draft your essay (do not worry about spelling or punctuation)
  • Editing and polishing

If your child breaks down homework assignments or study sessions into manageable chunks, he or she will avoid cognitive overload, perform better and develop improved study skills.