Ten Things To Do to support Weak Working Memory

Happy Learners Banner

Ten Things To Do

Ten Things To Do to support children with

Weak Working Memory


Keep explanations & instructions short & simple

Avoid giving too many things to remember at once. As the amount of information given increases the more likely it will be that increasing amounts are forgotten.


Summarise key points

Help children with weak working memory focus on the important bits of information to remember.


Give instructions one at a time

Get children to complete each step before the next instruction is given. This allows them to focus on completing the task without anxiety over remembering instructions.


Use task boards

These are a visual reminder of each step required in completing a task. Use these to write down instructions step by step. Focus on the novel parts of the task rather than things that are routine.


Avoid interrupting children when they are doing tasks

Any form of distraction can result in working memory loss. Avoid stopping children part way through a task as they may lose what they were thinking about.


Repeat new vocabulary frequently

Trying to make sense of new vocabulary uses up working memory capacity. Pre-learning vocabulary and reinforcement helps to transfer these words to long-term memory.


Use routines to establish learning behaviours

The working memory load of an activity can be reduced if some of the task is routine for that lesson. Having visual reminders listing these lesson ‘rules’ can also help.


Teach awareness of successful learning strategies

Ask children how they were successful when they complete tasks. What helped them succeed? How could they apply these strategies to other tasks and activities?


Actively teach memory rehearsal strategies

Concept maps and word webs
Repeating important information in their heads
Writing down notes and creating lists

Opportunity to hear, see and do
Concrete examples to support explanations such as artefacts, pictures and video
Apparatus to anchor maths & science concepts etc.
Other Things To Do
Create stories to help children remember lists and new vocabulary etc. by using them within the plot.
Songs and rhyming poems can help reinforce information and make them more memorable and fun.
Use writing frames to provide structure and guide child through expectations for any particular genre.
Use short movement breaks to demark steps in task and 'clear' working memory before next explanation or instruction.
Tell children the number of things that they need to remember. For example: 'You have 3 things to remember...'

bullet break

Weak Working Memory

Five Minute Guide to Sleep

A handy printable version of this Ten Things To Do guide suitable for handing to parents, school staff and other professionals and carers. Use 2-sided printing (set printer to flip on short side) and fold in half to produce A5 leaflet.

bullet break

Got more than five minutes?

You may be interested to read more:

Memory and Learning

Working Memory

Weak Working Memory Strategies

Back to the Ten Things To Do Index

bullet break