Ever wonder why you can remember the name of your first grade teacher, but can’t seem to remember what you were supposed to buy at the grocery store this afternoon?
I do! Thank goodness for lists!
Remembering and retrieving information requires a substantial amount of brain-power, using components of our intelligence called Short Term Memory and Long Term Retrieval.
These parts of our intelligence are used everyday by our students as they learn.
Short Term Memory
is often referred to as our working memory. It has a limited amount of space and can only hold items for short periods of time, generally less than 2 minutes. Working memory is the “place” in our brain where we manage information. It is where information either gets used once and forgotten, or it is deemed important enough to get stored in our long-term filing cabinets.
When a teacher gives their students three or four instructions at a time, they need to use short term memory to remember the tasks in order and then complete them. Even more importantly, the students are also taking that information and deciding what needs to be kept to reference later and what only pertains to the assignment they are working on at that moment.
The more we use or repeat the information in our short term memory, the more likely it will transfer over to our long term memory. This is why your child can usually remember the order that their classes go in everyday; they are continuously repeating this order so it has transferred over to their long term memory. Another example is when we try to remember a grocery list. You may repeat the items in your head over and over again; or you may make up a song to remember them. Whatever ends up in your cart from that list is because of your working memory. In addition, you are tapping into your long-term storage of prior grocery lists to recall what brands you liked, how ripe you like your fruits and veggies, and what expiration dates mean for specific items. See how these two parts of thinking work together?
Do you feel like your child has trouble remembering or prioritizing chores and tasks you ask them to complete at home? Do they come home unable to remember their homework assignments? Sometimes this is because they just aren’t listening – which is typical for kids sometimes. However, some children have weaknesses in their working memory. But don’t stress! There are many ways, we as parents, can help. This website contains some great ideas for boosting your child’s working memory.
Have you tried any other strategies at home with your children? What has worked for you as an adult?
Does your child have trouble remembering instructions or spelling words?