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Questions + Answers

Study Skills

Frequent questions

  • Question 1: What are some strategies I can use to help develop a child's working memory?
  • Question 2: My child can focus on sophisticated computer programs, Photoshop projects, and videos without a problem, but when confronted with reading assignments, he blanks out after 15 minutes. How can I help him focus when reading?
  • Question 3: My son is beginning middle school and he is so disorganized that he even forgets to turn in homework that he completes. How can I help him?

Expert answers

1) What are some strategies I can use to help develop a child's working memory?

There are several activities you can do to lift the memory performance of a child. Researchers have found that using mnemonic devices can help students improve their memory skills. Below are some suggested resources:

Other articles suggest games to play that will encourage your child to use his/her memory to remember everyday occurrences.

Lastly, it may be beneficial to find a support group in your area to see what works for others. There are several publications, organizations, and support groups that exist to help individuals, teachers, and families to understand and cope with learning disabilities – see LD OnLine's resource list to get started.

2) My child can focus on sophisticated computer programs, Photoshop projects, and videos without a problem, but when confronted with reading assignments, he blanks out after 15 minutes. How can I help him focus when reading?

To help a child focus on text-only activities, you can help him develop strategies that will change the information from text into a format he can better process. For instance, he may be better able to focus on long reading passages if he is creating a graphic organizer outlining the narrative (on paper or through a computer program). He may be better able to work through a math problem if he uses manipulatives or visuals to represent it. For more information and ideas about helping your child with study skills, check the LD Topics area on study skills.

He may also benefit from frequent breaks that would allow him to shift his attention before going into overdrive. Perhaps tasks could be broken up so that he is not looking at a whole page of math problems or a whole chapter of reading, but rather a more manageable segment. You could even alternate segments of these activities with a processing activity on the same subject, such as translating his on-paper graphic organizer into a 3D/Photoshop/animated one.

3) My son is beginning middle school and he is so disorganized that he even forgets to turn in homework that he completes. How can I help him?

Some students have great difficulty with the middle school transition. This is a time when they begin having to take responsibility for themselves - and when teachers expect more of them. Most students need specific strategies or structures that will help them develop good organizational habits. The following sites provide tips for parents for helping students stay organized:

It might also be a good idea to go through your child's book bag about once a week to see that he is keeping all his papers in designated sections, that he has a place for everything, and that he is making use of folders, color-coded tabs, etc. If no organization system is in place, take a trip to an office supply store and help your child create a system for organization.

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