Cognitive abilities vary widely between ages, but also between children of the same age. No two kids or young adults think the same way. Therefore, teachers find ways to accommodate their students based on how they learn best concerning their cognitive abilities. Working memory is a cognitive area in which many children and young adults struggle. Fortunately, the best teachers and tutors do this well, so all of their students can reach their full cognitive potential.

Teaching Elementary-Aged Kids

Struggles with working memory in elementary-aged children often manifest as short attention spans, inability to complete homework without help, or sloppy schoolwork. It can be difficult for children to remember details from a book they read or a teacher’s lesson. For young children, especially, the inability to follow instructions and remember information can significantly affect school performance.
Teachers and tutors can recognize when students struggle in this area. Often, they’ll use some of the following working memory tactics to help children maximize their memory and focus on the task at hand:
• Stick to routines that will assist a child to remember what comes next
• Give short and clear instructions
• Break large tasks down into smaller ones
• Use visual cues to help children remember steps and details
• For children with cognitive delays, consistency and patience from a teacher or tutor are crucial to their success.

Teaching Young Adults

Young adults can struggle with working memory and other cognitive abilities as much as young children, but their delays may manifest in more problematic ways, like behavioral problems or skipping school. It’s especially important for teachers and tutors to zone in on the tactics that work best for a student to avoid the loss of learning opportunities.
Intervention for young adults with cognitive delays can include:
• Consistent monitoring of classwork and behavior to ensure the student is picking up on a lesson
• Lowered amount of schoolwork so the student isn’t overwhelmed
• Having the student repeat the instructions for a task or verbalize what he’s doing to help embed it in his memory
• Providing plenty of hands-on opportunities for the student
• Depending on the severity of a young adult’s working memory function, further intervention outside of the classroom may be necessary.

Children and young adults with working memory or other cognitive delays may find that keeping up with the demands of the classroom are incredibly overwhelming. His teacher or tutor should be made aware of his needs as soon as possible so they can address them inside and outside of the classroom.

Author: Jenny Holt

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