Working Memory: Key to Learning

As a young parent, you may often wonder – What kind of experiences, toys or tools can I provide for my children at home so that they can reach and surpass key learning milestones. Firstly, it is important to understand that learning is all about acquiring skills, applying these skills and adapting oneself to the dynamics of change. As a parent,it is important that you provide a nurturing environment which supports and stimulates the process of learning. Building working memory for your child is a good example of something that you can effectively develop at home.Working memory is the mental sticky note we use to keep track and store information until we need to use it. It is the key to effective learning. As a baby your child listens to different sounds and starts to make sense of them. A child understands that his cry will get your attention, he can differentiate his Mother’s voice from his Father’s. Words like “Milk”, “Toy”, “Sleep” start to make sense to them. These are the building blocks of working memory. Another practical example of working memory can be seen most often in math class.Children may know how to do different kinds of calculations, however they often run into trouble with word problems. Many find it difficult to listen for clue words that indicate which operation to use, while at the same time, remembering the numbers that need to be plugged into the equation. Working memory isn’t just stored for later use. It has to be accessed and “played back” immediately—even as new information is arriving which needs to be incorporated. A child with strong working memory can keep all the numbers in his or her head, figure out what operation to use and create a written math problem at the same time. The Skillmatics product range has multiple activities which are carefully designed to build working memory in your child. You will be able to see a marked improvement in your child’s ability to absorb multiple sources information and apply his or her own reasoning to solve the task at hand. At home, you can start with encouraging your child to express their thoughts and emotions in a sequential manner. For example, while asking your child how their day was at school, you can ask them to describe their day from beginning to end. Another example, is give simple routine instructions to your child such as –“please bring me a book from the shelf”. Over time you can make this more challenging by adding more steps to the task, such as “please bring me the red book from the bottom shelf”. Giving choices to your children and enabling them to make decisions is another effective way of building working memory. The choices may vary in clothes, toys, books or even routines. Encouraging your child to think, relate to cause and effect, decide their own action and understand consequences lays the foundation for the development process. While the above is not easy at the beginning, you shall be glad to see your efforts being rewarded as your child becomes an independent and effective learner.