Effective Memory Strategies for Special Needs Children

Students with learning disabilities frequently struggle with memory retention, which unfortunately often leads to academic problems. Children with memory retention problems, especially those unable to retain information on a short-term basis, usually have poor problem solving skills. Children struggling with remembering facts and information on a long-term basis, often struggle recalling details which they must know to pass exams. Many children struggle with short and long-term memory retention. However, various strategies can be utilized to improve these problems.

Short-Term Versus Long-Term Memory

Long-term memory (LTM) is the ability to remember specific details and information for an extended period of time. New vocabulary words and the ability to perform simple math functions is a common example of information retained on a long-term basis. Retaining this information is essential in later school years when students must write term papers and solve complicated math problems. Short-term memory (STM), also known as working memory, is the ability to remember facts and specific details for a short period of time. Students rely on STM when teachers provide detailed, multi-step instructions, and when they interact and work with their peers.

Effective Memory Strategies for Special Needs Students

The following are strategies teachers can employ to assist children struggling with long and short-term memory retention:

Mnemonics – Is a learning strategy where students associate familiar words, rhyming words or phrases, or songs with terms they're struggling to remember. Listed below are common mnemonic devices:

  • The ABC song popular among young children learning to read
  • before E except after C
  • FANBOYS to remember the 7 coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

Rote Practice Exercises – Repetition is one of the best ways to learn and retain new information, so teachers should constantly review concepts with students struggling with memory loss problems. Teachers can create drills students can complete on their own, or conduct drills with the entire class. Whatever strategies teachers employ, if they repetitively review curriculum in their classrooms, students will retain more information.

Hands-on learning – After students become familiar with a concept, they can further their knowledge through hands-on learning. For example, students can learn about an insect and then conduct a dissection to study its anatomy. Students can also learn about a historical event that occurred in their community and then tour a historical site associated with it.

If children cannot retain information presented to them in the classroom, it becomes very difficult for them to pass exams and have the necessary knowledge to study more advanced concepts. However, many teaching methods and strategies exist to help students struggling with memory loss. By implementing these methods and strategies, children can overcome their disabilities, earn good grades, and obtain future academic and career goals.

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