The most significant classroom strategy is to reduce the potential for memory overload in what we ask of the children.
One reason many children find the transition from play-based learning to more formal learning is that suddenly the memory load, for both curriculum information and classroom management, is significantly increased.
Be aware of children who:
- Are always following others and look bewildered if you ask them a question about what they plan to do next.
- Abandon tasks without completing them.
- Can’t repeat back to you what you have asked them to do.
- Can’t comment to a response partner about what you have said.
- Make frequent errors in tasks involving copying.
- Appear to be under-achieving or showing frustration.
You can reduce potential memory overload by:
- Reviewing your planning to reduce the amount of information to be remembered.
- Structuring your teaching so that you say the main points at the beginning, you talk around those points; you repeat the main points at the end.
- Remembering that a child’s concentration span is no more than their age +/-2 in minutes (so most 6 year old’s can concentrate for a maximum of between 4 and 8 minutes).
- Making frequent opportunities as you talk to the children for them to talk to response partners and comment on what you’ve just said; think of a question to ask; decide what the most important information is; apply the information in a given context.
- Pre-teaching key concepts and vocabulary. Ask a teaching assistant to work with the children) to review, using practical tasks, the main ideas you are planning to develop in a taught session.
- Encouraging the use of memory aids. These can be used to focus learning on a particular objective and reducing the memory load to remember other information. These can be as simple as a visual timetable or an activity strip.
- Encouraging the use of audio recording equipment such as Talk-Time Postcards so that children record their ideas before they put pencil to paper.
- Teaching children strategies for remembering.
With thanks to SENCo Kate Ruttle, for this article.