What is Working Memory?

Working memory refers to the ability to register, maintain, and manipulate information in our conscious awareness. In simpler terms, it refers to the ability to keep track and remember information so we could use it.

For example, a child may be given this set of instructions in the classroom: Keep your English book in your bag, collect your Math homework from the teacher, and flip to page 3. He does the first one, and keeps going back to the teacher to ask what the second and third thing was. This may be a sign that the child is struggling with working memory.

Our working memory is needed to hold, process, and use information to carry out the tasks required. Working memory is required in many daily tasks, such as mental arithmetic, recalling and executing instructions, reading comprehension, and composition writing. In addition, working memory is often implicated in children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

If your child has working memory issues, you may consider the use of memory strategies, such as mnemonics or chunking to help him remember more information. Instructions should be broken down. Note taking may also be helpful. In addition, games such as Simon Says may also help to train up your child’s working memory span.