Teaching Strategies

Poor working memory can be difficult to recognise in the school classroom. Children with a poor working memory may:

  • make frequent errors
  • forget instructions
  • appear inattentive
  • be reserved in group activities
  • frequently lose their place in tasks (including reading, writing and mathematical computation)

Teachers can use strategies to manage working memory demands in order to minimise the impact of a poor working memory on learning. This involves being mindful that heavy loads are caused by lengthy instructions, unfamiliar content, and demanding mental processing activities. Teachers should try, where appropriate, to:

  • Simplify vocabulary and syntax
  • Provide simple instructions in separate independent steps
  • Frequently repeat important information or ask the child to repeat it.
  • Use dual coding (verbal and visual) to present information
  • Encourage early responses to group discussions/questions
  • Reducing unnecessary distractions in the learning environment
  • Make links to previous learning
  • Provide opportunities for playing memory games (auditory and visual)

Teachers should also encourage students to become independent by developing their own strategies. These may vary dependent upon the age and stage of students but could include, where appropriate, promoting:

  • The request for help when necessary
  • Use of memory aids such as number lines, word banks and spelling lists
  • Rehearsal of important information
  • Note taking and organisational strategies to categorise information.
  • Text to speech and speech to text software
  • Metacognition