(2 min read)
When I was initially learning about executive function in the brain it took me a while to wrap my head around the concepts. So I took each executive function skill and tired to “see” it in real life. Working memory is the ability to hold information in your brain while you work or act on that information. Kids with ADHD can struggle with the working memory. This can look like forgetfulness: you asked them to clean their room or do homework and five minutes later they are wandering around another part of the house playing!
I am going to share with you how I have tried to “see” working memory limitations in kids and then recreate their tasks to make them more doable.
How can we “see” working memory in someone else?
We all know which tasks our kids forget or avoid. But let’s look a little closer to understand why they are forgetting what to do. Maybe it is because their brain can only hold so much information at once. Look at the following list and ask yourself these questions. (alt text in image ID)
Split tasks into smaller pieces and create strategic reminders
Instead of giving a kid with ADHD a “giant” task of “doing their homework” we need to look at each assignment in smaller pieces. Reading a book chapter and answering questions on a worksheet might seem straightforward but it’s made up of tiny micro-tasks. Reading the chapter uses working memory to remember words, their meaning, understanding context, drawing inferences, etc. Then you brain switches to the worksheet and in reading the questions you are trying to understand those words and meaning that your brain cannot simultaneously think of what the book told you. We need to break this task into smaller pieces and then gives the student tools that help them connect the book with the worksheet without relying only on their memory.
Take a look at the following graphics for an example of how to do this plus a few others. (alt text in image ID)
Please leave a comment below and let me know if these strategies have been helpful!