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Forest Row Church of England Primary School


What is our working memory?

Working Memory is the ability to hold and manipulate information simultaneously in the mind, to produce a result. An example of this would be if you were orally given a list of random subjects such as:-

Doorstop; cheese grater; laminator;  sneeze;  abdomen; zeppelin;  tsunami; clock.

How many would you remember without having the list read out again?

A lot of children have a poor working memory and we are often asked “How can I support my child?” The following are examples for you:-

  • Work on visualisation skills: encourage your child to create a picture in their mind of what he/she’s just read or heard e.g. if you’ve just told them to set the table for five people, ask them to come up with a mental picture of what the table should look like. Then ask them to draw that picture. As they get better at visualising ask them to describe the image to you instead of drawing it.


  • Play games: use games that support visual memory e.g. matching games. Give your child a magazine page and ask them to circle all instances of the word ‘the’ or the letter ‘a’ in one minute. You could also turn licence plates into a game by taking turns reciting the letters and numbers and then saying them backwards.


  • Play cards: simple games like Crazy Eights, Uno, Go Fish and War can improve memory in 2 ways as your child needs to keep the rules of the game in mind but they also have to remember what cards they have and which ones other people have played.


  • Active reading: jotting down notes and underlining or highlighting text can help keep information in the mind long enough to answer questions about it. Talking out loud and asking questions about the reading material can also help with this. Active reading strategies can also help with forming long-term memories too.


  • Make it multisensory: processing information in as many ways as possible can help with working memory and long term memory. Write down tasks so that your child can look at them then say them out loud so your child can hear them. Why not toss a ball back and forth while you discuss the tasks your child needs to complete. Using multisensory strategies can help keep your child keep information in their mind long enough to use.


  • Help make connections: You can help your child form associations that connect the different details they are trying to remember. You could grab their interest with fun mnemonics.

You may know “Richard of York gave battle in vain” to remember the order of the colours of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

Finding ways to connect information helps with forming and retrieving long-term memory. It also helps with working memory, which is what we use to hold and compare old and new memories.