Working Memory: Definition, Symptoms, Impact on Academics, Solutions, and Freebie

Do you have students that continually forget to bring a
pencil to class, misplace their homework, blurt out irrelevant comments, and struggle
following multi-step directions?  These
difficulties can all be traced to working memory mishaps. 
What is Working

Working memory is a cognitive functioning that enables students
to remember and use relevant information to complete an activity.  It also enables learners to hold multiple
pieces of information in the mind and manipulate them.  It is often described as a mental workspace that
helps students stay focused, block distractions and stay abreast of their
How Does a Weak Working
Memory Impact Students? 

Working memory difficulties will impact the following: 
  • Reading comprehension
  • Mental math
  • Understanding social interactions
  • Completing homework
  • Planning and preparing for activities
  • Solving multi-step directions
  • Writing essays and reports
  • Following a conversation
  • Test preparation
  • Turning in homework
  • Following and participating in group discussions

What are Some Key
Symptoms of Working Memory Difficulties?
  • Trouble comprehending a story
  • Difficulties memorizing math facts
  • Problems making and keeping friends
  • Requires many prompts to complete homework
  • Forgets needed materials at home and at school
  • Fails to follow all the directions and work is often
  • Struggles with organizing ideas before writing and the
    finished product is often incomplete and messy
  • Makes irrelevant comments and changes the topic of
  • Difficulties maintaining focus
  • Misplaces things like pencils, notebooks, and homework
  • Leaving studying for tests to the last minute

How Can Students
Improve Working Memory?
Providing fun and engaging activities that require attention, mental manipulation, and following directions such as Red Light, Green Light, memory games and treasure hunts can help.  However, ready made activities that develop working memory activities can save preparation time.  Come get some FREE SAMPLE ACTIVITIES.

I hope you found this post helpful.  If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to &  

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