Did you know that working memory is often touted to be the best indicator of academic success? However, if a student is easily distracted, the academic content can be missed or it can fade before it even reaches this vital part of the learning process.
Attention and Working Memory Go Hand in Hand:
Executive functioning, or what I like to call the Grand Central Station of the brain, houses both attention and working memory. In fact, attention and working memory operate in tandem, because attention is required to process and manipulate information in one's mental workspace or mind's eye. This includes both auditory information such as following oral directions as well as visual information such as making sense of a complex puzzle. Researchers at The University of North Carolina examined the relation between working memory capacity and attention. They found that students with higher working memory capacity maintain attention better than those with a lower working memory capacity.
What are the Core Cognitive Skills that Makeup Working Memory and Aid with Attention?
At the heart of working memory lies one's mind's eye as well as one's inner voice. In fact, one can use both of these skills to mindfully maintain attention.
- Visualization: Visualization is forming mental images or pictures. If you would like to learn more about visualization as well as how to develop this skill, CLICK HERE.
- Inner Voice: The inner voice is an internal monologue or self-talk that takes place in one's head. To learn more about how to nurture a positive inner voice, CLICK HERE
What are Three Reliable Ways to Improve Attention and Working Memory?
In a nutshell, the best way to improve attention and working memory is to develop mindful, metacognitive skills. In other words, students need to become aware of their own cognition and take an active and present role in the learning process. One can nurture this by:
- Exercising attention and working memory by
- providing highly structured and organized materials and tools such as Planning Time Management and Organization for Success and
The Ultimate, Mindful and Editable Planner/Agenda
- doing activities such as the Working Memory and Hemisphere Integration Bundle and Following Directions Bundle.
- playing games that exercise both attention and working memory such as the Executive Functioning Games Bundle.
- Developing one's capacity to visualize. I offer both PowerPoints and fun activities that help to develop this skill. To learn more CLICK HERE.
- Gaining control over one's inner voice. I offer a blog that can tell you more about developing this skill as well as task cards.
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 specifically exercise working memory and attention can save time and focus an intervention plan. Come get some FREE SAMPLE ACTIVITIES. Also, if you would like to learn about all my tools that develop working memory skills, CLICK HERE.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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