Are you worried that your child has some short-term memory problems that’s affecting their schoolwork? Don’t give up. Kids (and adults for that matter) can train their minds to hold on to incoming information.

About memory problems

Issues with memory are often called “working memory problems.” Working memory problems have nothing to do with intelligence or, in many instances, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)But they do make it difficult for kids to hone their reading skills or master math; most children identified as "poor readers" or “arithmetic disabled” have problems with working memory.

What can I do?

If you suspect your child has working memory challenges try the following tips to help them:

  1. Reduce sensory overload. For example, no TV while doing homework; no music while reading; and no video games for long periods of time.
  2. Work with your child’s strengths. If he or she has good visual skills, but doesn’t listen well, try conveying information through images more than spoken words.
  3. Help your child focus on one task at a time. Sequential multitasking (doing multiple tasks one at a time) works, but overlapping tasks to be done “simultaneously” does not work.
  4. Teach information using “chunking.” Group instructions or information into bite-sized packages to be digested one at a time. Ask teachers to do that with their instructions, too. Make sure the groups of information are in a logical order and that your child understands the information before moving on to the next piece.
  5. Encourage physical activity. Physical activity improves working memory and can give your child the physical resources he or she needs to do better in school.
  6. Feed your child’s brain as well. Providing a balanced diet and DHA-omega-3 rich foods and supplements can fuel his or her brain.
  7. Get your child evaluated by the right professionals. But don’t automatically opt for medication at the first sign of a learning disability. There are often other ways to begin improving your child’s health before moving on to medical treatments.

Remember that one of the best ways to help your child is to lead by example. Living a healthy lifestyle can give you and your family improved memories and better relationships.