When Attention or Working Memory Are Not Working

Navigating Attention and Working Memory Challenges in Learning Support - 1

Attention and Working Memory are elements of Executive Functioning and are both necessary for learning. Attention is the process that allows information to go into the brain. Attention also allows for selection of information that will be taken in. Working Memory allows us to use new information and permits the brain to organize and process the information. In an online article, Attention: How It’s Different From Working Memory, by Peg Rosen, she writes “Attention allows for information to be taken in. Working memory helps the brain make sense of it.” 

4 Components of Attention

There are four components of Attention: Alertness to information being given, Selection of information to be processed, Sustaining focus on information so it can be obtained, and Shifting focus between different informational stimuli. Working Memory is where the brain retains and uses information from the short-term memory and it processes the information to make it useful. Eventually, the working memory will encode the information and place it into the long-term memory.

Students with Executive Functioning issues struggle with Attention and/or Working Memory.  Although there is a large amount of information for issues with Attention, there is not a lot of information on Working Memory issues. Working Memory issues can vary. However, issues are identified when information stored is disorganized, gaps in information, and information not transferred to the long term memory. Understanding where your student is having trouble helps to know what supports your child needs. If you suspect that your child may have difficulties with attention or working memory, you may consider an evaluation to pinpoint the area your child is struggling with. Contact Jodi Vigil in the Learning Support Department to find supports, strategies, and activities to help improve your child’s learning experience.

For more information about Attention and Working Memory, and to review the full article, Attention: How It’s Different From Working Memory, by Peg Rosen, please visit the parent link on Understood.org.

See also: Unlocking Success: ES Learning Support

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