An excellent working memory has been identified as the quality that all prodigies have in common. The good news is that even if you have a poor working memory, you can do something about it. With some dedicated brain training, you can work towards improving your working memory. Many of the activities for developing working memory that we have covered so far have been computer programs or apps so I wanted to explore other non-tech ways to develop working memory.
According to The Working Memory Advantage, these non-tech activities can help boost your working memory:
Improve Working Memory with Reading
Reading is an excellent activity for training working memory. When reading with your child, you can try these tips:
- Read aloud and keep reading new stories so they have to rely on their working memory (rather than long-term memory) to follow the story.
- Ask your child for facts about the story so they have to use their working memory to recall details from the story – e.g. what colour was it?
- Get your child to speculate the motivations of the characters – e.g. why do you think they did this?
- Ask your child to read the story aloud on his own and later discuss what it was about. The act of reading aloud makes demands on your child’s working memory so having a discussion about a story that has been read for the first time will be more challenging.
Improve Working Memory with Cooking
Try cooking without looking at the recipe. Begin the task by studying the recipe and memorising the ingredients and the steps in the method. Put the recipe book away and try to cook the entire dish without referring to the recipe.
The more complicated the recipe, the more challenging it will be for your working memory. For children, start with very simple recipes that do not require many ingredients or steps.
Improve Working Memory with Exercise
Running increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex which plays an important role in working memory.
Researchers have observed benefits to long-term memory, learning, attention, executive control, and a host of other cognitive abilities. The brain as a whole seems to thrive on exercise. – The Neuroscience of Running
Improve Working Memory by Learning a Language
Learning a new language is an intense working memory activity because you have to link an entire set of words, sounds and meaning to your long-term memory and become familiar enough to manipulate them correctly.
Improve Working Memory with Diet
Consume brain foods that promote a good working memory:
- omega-3 oils
- lean red meat
- oily fish
- dark-coloured vegetables
- red wine (obviously not for the kids)
Improve Working Memory by Sleeping
If you’re not getting enough sleep, your working memory suffers. The younger you are, the more obvious this becomes. But no matter how old you are, the toll on your working memory will begin to show when the task becomes more challenging.
Improve Working Memory with Aromatherapy
Essential oils like rosemary and peppermint have been shown to enhance cognitive function. (See: Wise Choice)
- The Learning Brain: Memory and Brain Development in Children – Torkel Klingberg
- The development of working memory in children – Lucy Henry