How Schools Are Improving Children’s Working Memory and Classroom Performance

Working memory is a key factor in learning and retaining information. It can be defined as stored information that is managed for a short period of time. We essentially hold on to specific information until we need to use it. The concept of working memory was discovered over 50 years ago. Serving as a key to learning, working memory contributes to tasks such as reading, problem-solving and navigation. Working memory is the part of the brain that monitors, coordinates, inputs, and decides what pieces of information to focus on. Researchers have found that when problem-solving and thinking, the prefrontal cortex increases inactivation. Working memory is certainly crucial in a school environment, as it is utilized by students on a daily basis. From figuring the meaning of a new word when reading a book to choosing which formula to apply to a math problem, working memory is certainly a necessary skill for academic success.

What is an Applied Behavioral Analysis

An Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) seeks to improve or change specific behaviors especially social, communication, and learning skills. ABA Therapists are able to assist students with autism by identifying specific goals and objectives to address their learning needs. ABA Therapists are beneficial to students in that they help to increase language and communication skills as well as contribute towards decreased problems in behavior. In addition, ABA Therapists also help students to improve in the areas of attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics. They are able to do this through a variety of therapy techniques. One of the most common techniques being positive reinforcement, when the desired behavior is rewarded.

The implementation of ABA Therapy services provides students with the opportunity to develop skills that are required to succeed in both an academic and social setting. These skills eventually carry over into a professional career, making working memory a key factor in not only an academic setting but into adulthood as well. ABA Therapy not only provides an improvement of quality of life but also provides long-term benefits.

Working Memory Intervention Strategies

ADHD affects many children worldwide and can pose an academic challenge to many young students. Time management, task fulfillment, and attention span are all areas of concern when it comes to helping the child with ADHD manage their symptoms and have successful classroom experience. Often, students with ADHD are hyperactive, unable to focus for an extended period of time, and will forget important deadlines such as papers, tests, and homework turn-in dates. Though both educators and parents strive to help these children, intervention from an ABA therapist is often needed.

Educators and special education teams working with students that have ADHD can help support children’s success in the classroom by practicing a variety of organizational and social awareness tools. Using folders to help a student keep track of assignments across multiple subjects, Google Docs for quick communication with a professor regarding questions on an essay, and teachers emailing parents to remind them of current classroom objectives are all ways that the student with ADHD can have a positive learning experience. Though Working Memory Therapy testing has proven inconclusive, until more research has been compiled, these tips can serve as a helpful jumping off point for the team looking to help students with ADHD in the classroom.

ABA Therapy in Public School

In a school-based setting, ABA Therapy certainly benefits students not only from an academic standpoint but from a social one as well. Not only do they gain academic support to meet their individual needs, but they also gain the ability to effectively communicate and interact with peers. Not only is the demand for ABA therapy increasing across schools, but it is also required for districts to provide to those students in need. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that eligible individuals with disabilities have access to special education services.

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