Have you ever been introduced to someone, have a brief conversation, and as they walk away think, "what was her name again?"
Have you ever read a page in a novel and at the bottom of the page realize you have no idea what you just read?
As adults we can work around a forgotten moment -- ask a name again or re-read a page. How about our kids? How do they work around forgotten moments?
Parents tell me all the time about giving two and three step instructions to their kids only to have to repeat themselves two and three times for the tasks to be completed.
"Go upstairs, get in your PJs, brush your teeth and bring down a book to read."
Your child may be one to go upstairs into his bedroom and find a missing toy on the floor...the PJs, teeth brushing and book long since forgotten.
Any of this sound familiar?
We talk often of our "holding tanks" that is, our short term memory, and how our daily lives can be impacted. When we talk about short term memory, we're talking about a two minute or so time frame. It's one of the first steps your brain takes in processing new information.
If your "holding tank" is small, only a small amount of information can be processed at one time. Your brain works to empty out that holding tank so new information can come in. When your brain is working efficiently to empty out that tank you can work quickly, but it may be a bit 'stop and go' as you process then wait to be able to process more information. At school, this turns into kids picking at a carpet fiber, playing with their pencil or starting a conversation with the kid in the next seat. Small holding tank = short attention span.
So, what can you do about it?
Remember the game Memory? You may have one of several different versions; we have a Winnie-the-Pooh one, and a mother and baby animals version. This game is fun and can help increase that holding tank.
Break out the stopwatch. Give a direction and add a timed element to make doing the task more fun. Start with one at a time and add on from there. For kids with short term memory weaknesses, two directions at a time may be the limit.
Repeat, repeat. The kids, not you! When you call out a task, have your child repeat it back to you while looking at you.
Awareness can be key. Knowing if it is a short term memory problem or an attention problem or a "I'm a teenager and I don't want to listen" problem can make all the difference. You can complete a free short three minute survey here.
So, go ahead, use that holding tank to the best of your ability! Your productivity will thank you for it!