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Classroom strategies for supporting children with poor memory

The most significant classroom strategy is to reduce the potential for memory overload in what we ask of the children. One reason many children find the transition from play-based learning to more formal learning is that suddenly the memory load, for both curriculum information and classroom management, is significantly increased.

Posted on Wednesday 12th July 2017

Be aware of children who:

  • Are always following others and look bewildered if you ask them a question about what they plan to do next.
  • Abandon tasks without completing them.
  • Can’t repeat back to you what you have asked them to do.
  • Can’t comment to a response partner about what you have said.
  • Make frequent errors in tasks involving copying.
  • Appear to be under-achieving or showing frustration.

You can reduce potential memory overload by:

  • Reviewing your planning to reduce the amount of information to be remembered.
  • Structuring your teaching so that you say the main points at the beginning, you talk around those points; you repeat the main points at the end.
  • Remembering that a child’s concentration span is no more than their age +/-2 in minutes (so most 6 year old’s can concentrate for a maximum of between 4 and 8 minutes).
  • Making frequent opportunities as you talk to the children for them to talk to response partners and comment on what you’ve just said; think of a question to ask; decide what the most important information is; apply the information in a given context.
  • Pre-teaching key concepts and vocabulary. Ask a teaching assistant to work with the children) to review, using practical tasks, the main ideas you are planning to develop in a taught session.
  • Encouraging the use of memory aids. These can be used to focus learning on a particular objective and reducing the memory load to remember other information. These can be as simple as a visual timetable or an activity strip.
  • Encouraging the use of audio recording equipment such as Talk-Time Postcards so that children record their ideas before they put pencil to paper.
  • Teaching children strategies for remembering.

Click here to view our Memory Fix activity programme.

Supporting poor memory in the classroom

With thanks to SENCo Kate Ruttle, for this article.