Does it seem like your child or student doesn't have "Velcro" to hold information in his/her brain? Does memorizing math facts seem like a mountain that's too high to climb? Does your child "know" information for a test, then bomb it...time and again? Can you ask your child a question about a passage just read, only to be stared at with an empty, blank face?
Most institutions fail to address memory building skills for students. Students with learning disabilities are especially prone to having weak visual and auditory memory skills. Here's the good news. These are just skills like any other and can be strengthened.
At Harp, we focus on building students' visual and auditory memory skills, step-by-step. We start with two-digit memory span for both visual and auditory memory. Once a student has three-digit memory span, we introduce manipulation of skills in memory. This helps with working memory.
Working memory is responsible for temporarily holding information in the brain. This makes it available for processing and manipulation of information. This helps with reasoning and decision making skills and is a key contributor to behavior.
The two types of memory we're usually most familiar with are short-term and long-term memory.
Short-term memory is the brain's ability to hold but not manipulate small bits of information. This type of memory is held in an active, readily available state for a short period of time.
Short-term memory can be used to remember phone numbers, addresses, or pieces of relatively unimportant information. It is held active in the brain for about 18 to 30 seconds.
Long-term memory is informative knowledge that is held indefinitely in the brain. This might be a loved one's phone number or address. This could be the details of a birthday party or facts about something that's interesting.
Have you ever listened to your child rattle off the exact dialogue from a movie...more than once? Then, when asked to remember an "uninteresting" fact, you're stared at with that same blank face.
These are typical problems with students who have learning problems. It's as if they bypassed the simpler process of short-term and working memory and advanced to long-term memory. Without holding any of the "important" facts in their brains.
Students can be taught to strengthen memory skills. At Harp, we first work on basic visual and auditory memory building skills.
Visual memory is the brain's ability to hold visual images in memory. If you think about it, each letter in a word is a "picture". If a student can only hold two images in visual memory, then only two of those letters can be recalled. Imagine trying to read multi-syllable words when you can only recall two of the letters!
We start students with two-digit memory span and gradually increase the demand until students are proficient at six-digits. Those pesky multi-syllable words are no longer a problem. Multiplication facts are memorized. Facts can be memorized to pass tests. Grades soar. Confidence spikes. Reading becomes a joy instead of a chore.
At Harp, we play games, have the students jump on the mini-tramp, bounce balls, and perform a wide range of visual memory activities. The best part? They have fun while they're learning!
Auditory memory is the ability to take in information that is presented orally (out loud), process it, retain it in the brain, and then recall it. Here's where it gets tricky. Auditory memory requires working memory.
At Harp, we start the kids at two-digit auditory memory span. Once again, we build up to six-digit memory span. We also introduce nonsense words in the Red Level. This prevents the kids from memorizing "meanings" between words instead of working on auditory memory.
This is a difficult skill! But our students figure it out.
We also work with sequential auditory memory. Kids have to memorize auditory patterns both backward and forward. We have the students manipulate auditory information, which helps their working memory.
Following directions in conjunction with visual stimuli is added to the mix. This gives the students another piece of information to "grab" onto as they strengthen their auditory memory "muscle".
Once again students work with big balls, mini-tramps, and play games while working on auditory memory skills. One of their favorite things is to work with kinetic sand while building crucial auditory memory skills.
Happy, well-adjusted students who can pass tests, understand what was read, retain auditory information, memorize math facts, and learn!