Monday 7 September 2020

Working Memory - A key to learning and academic performance


The integral part of learning has always been the working memory. Working memory plays a huge role in dealing with unknown (new) problems and situations. It comes in handy at times to block out irrelevant information and to precisely retrieve information from long-term memory. Working memory is equally important in learning new skills that will eventually be automated, like reading and writing. Children’s achievement in reading, writing, and mathematics go hand in hand with working memory. It helps in identifying working memory deficits in children to facilitate learning as early as possible.


Experts say that the right age for working memory to develop is between 5 to 11 years. A four-year-old can repeat an average of about three digits that have been read aloud with the undeveloped working memory pertaining to his age. Whereas a twelve-year-old is capable of reproducing about six digits. Significant changes happen until the age of 15. After 15 he/she approaches an adult ́s working memory capacity and builds basic skills such as processing speed and controlled attention, in addition to increased use of strategies such as repetition and chunking. Around the age of 26 the working memory reaches its peak. 


A student’s academic performance is immensely characterized and influenced by the working memory. This is because many academic tasks involve multiple steps. These steps include intermediate solutions and these intermediate solutions are to be remembered by the students to proceed through the forthcoming tasks.


An important fact is that low capacity leads to overload of working memory. A given task becomes tough or stressful when working memory is overloaded. If this happens frequently, it may lead to total inability. No new knowledge is available when a working memory task is not completed as no new information is stored in the long-term memory. As there isn’t any form of natural construction of knowledge bank to retrieve from, learning disability becomes significant. This becomes a major obstacle in confidence building in kids. When the frequency of learning opportunities is limited, one’s learning ability suffers.



First up, recognizing letters and their phonemes is important. Secondly, kids should know how to make phrases out of them according to the rules of the language. Thirdly, they must understand and create meaning out of the individual words in relation to one and another thereby making meaningful sentences. Finally, they understand the whole text by understanding how these sentences relate to each other. The main purpose here is understanding the text. The more working memory capacity that must be devoted to processing the words the less is left to make meaning of what has just been read.


The exact same thing applies to mathematics too. If the basic operations on numbers is familiar to you, more complex tasks can be handled. Learning digits and using strategies to facilitate arithmetic learning becomes a struggle for children with working memory difficulties. Some strategies, like counting with fingers, can increase the burden on working memory in the long run as doing so takes a lot of resources mentally and is a very slow process.


Recent studies have shown that, if working memory is actively engaged through cognitive training, it helps train your kids memory. For cognitive training to be effective:


(i)           The training should be adaptive.

(ii)          The kid should be trained regularly and over a sufficient period of time.

(iii)        The right tools for improving working memory.

(iv)        The right coach to maintain motivation and provide continuous support.


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Tuesday 7 August 2018


                           -SUGANTHA SARAVANAN, SUGSAR EDUTECH
When I first came across the words Mushin, Zashin and Satori I thought these were some Chinese or Japanese names. But when I learnt what they are, I really got fascinated and wanted to share about what these meant. These are the three Zen principles which we can use every single day to make our life more meaningful
1.    Mushin: Mind without mind
It is a state of mind where your mind is not fixed to any emotions or preconceptions. The idea is pretty simple but are we not reactive in most of the cases? Jumping into conclusions without a thorough understanding is dangerous and can lead us in the wrong directions. Practice to have an open mind and avoid making hasty decisions. Never attach an emotion to a problem and confront it with a clear mind.
2.    Zashin : Presence of mind
Zashin is mindfulness , paying attention to every action we take and becoming aware of the present moment and not actually judging things as good or bad. It is a simple practice of being aware of our body, mind and surroundings without much stress but with a constant vigilance. Mindfulness attention helps us to understand what we are.
3.    Satori : The Natural State
Satori is a natural state of inner peace and joy. Practicing Satori in real world is very difficult but it can be achieved by a steady inner state of mind. The best way is through meditation which helps us to get back to the natural state in any kind of environment. Meditation brings in a total harmony between the body and mind.
Let’s practice Mushin, Zashin and Satori to live our best life every single day.

Wednesday 8 November 2017


We all know positive thoughts and positive-being gives great success in life. We come across moments where we feel low. Do we really approach it with this spirit of positivity ? The answer is NO. That's because we are entangled in an infinite negative thought loop.

“Work *on* your mind, not just *in* your mind.”

I adore the above words. We always work with our minds but do we really work on it? Well, working on it means realization and analysis. Have you ever analysed your brain as a passive observer ? Trust me , it open up to a new beginning. The first step towards mastering your mind is simply being aware of it: checking if your mind state is appropriate and notice the changes. 

Once you have observed your mind, the next step is reframing. Consciously reshaping your thoughts can actively reshape the world around you. One of the great reframes of all times comes from Thomas Edison, and it is still used to reframe the idea of failure. When it was pointed out that it took 1000 attempts to successfully get the electric bulb to work, a reporter asked him how he felt about the 1000 failures. Edison replied, " We did not fail, we found 1000 ways that did not work". Reframing involves changing what a situation means. It helps us to accelerate the performance of our mental simulations by specifically thinking through how to overcome difficulties: not just "thinking positive" but also "working through the negative". 

An example of the general vs reframed thoughts:
Image result for reframing

The energy of our mind is diffused over many different thoughts, fears and memories.Try to focus this mental energy through a continuous process of analysis and reframing and accomplish goals that  help us move towards the big goals. 

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Reading and Spelling Difficulties

Reading is a neurological process that the brain undertakes every time it is presented with text on the page. In order to target the primary cause of reading difficulty to find a solution, we have to look at different areas where that process can break down.

Whole word sight reading - a condition called Optilexia 


  • Regular guessing (or errors) when reading
  • Errors show up as switching of words to incorrect ones with the same first letter
  • Short words can seem harder than long words
  • Spelling always atrocious except possibly in spelling tests
  • Spelling based on very simple phonic construction
  • Made early reading progress but then moved onto a plateau
  • Reading may be at grade level, but below individual's potential
  • Great difficulty decoding an unfamiliar word
  • Comprehension accuracy often poor compared to fluency
  • Possible flipping of b/d, on/no, was/saw, etc.
The main sign of Optilexia is guessing when reading, particularly with the short words. Sometimes the longer words seem easier and the reader will read a word without a problem on one page, but not the next. The underlying cause of Optilexia can be found in how the learner is processing the text visually rather than aurally. Once that has been switched, a steady rate of progress can be gained.

Another important reading struggle is caused due to  Eye-Tracking Weakness 

Sometimes children skip words and lines. Normally a reader's eyes perform a refined jump from word cluster to word cluster left to right, called a saccade. Some struggling readers have weakness in the neural feedback loops controlling the eye muscles that control this movement. That makes focusing accurately on a word in a sentence very hard. Simple eye-tracking exercises usually fix this neural weakness in just days.

Reading is a higher brain function and is therefore controlled by the frontal cortex. When the brain is under stress, 70% of the frontal cortex energy is diverted to the fight or flight center (amygdala) and the brain loses its capacity to think clearly. A child who struggles with reading is in a state of stress when trying. This sets the child up for inadequate mental resources when attempting to read. The pattern of being under stress and getting more stressed when trying creates a downward stress spiral which often results in meltdowns, tears and finally giving up.

Thursday 17 November 2016

Memory Retrieval

It is tempting to imagine a memory as a particular circuit of neurons , forged by the original experience, where sending an electrical impulse around this circuit in the same pattern as the original stimulus recreates the experience. However, evidence shows that recall is a much more complicated process than this. Memories are not simply little computer routines, which can be run again and again, producing the exact same response each time. Nor are they like photographic memories, which can be exposed over and over to produce an identical picture each time.

A memory is a mental experience in the present that is constructed from elements that refer to the past. For instance, your memory of eating ice-cream is built up from mental representation of such qualities as sweetness and coldness. In other words, a memory is a reconstruction of original experience. Remembering an experience is a bit like having a virtual experience that has been constructed to seem like the original. This explains why memory can be notoriously unreliable, and how different people can remember the same thing vey differently. It is even possible to make people remember things that never actually happened to them.

The ease with which you can address a memory depend on how well it was encoded in the first place. High-Quality encoding ensures that a memory is laid down as part of a rich network of associations. When it comes to recall, a memory is accessed via one or more of these associations. The more associations that exist in your memory store, the greater the number of angles from which you can access this memory, and the easier it will be to recall. This is why good encoding is the key to successful recall.

Quality encoding of data to long-term memory means not simply learning facts in isolation but understanding them and how they relate to larger factual structures and systems, so that accessing the data from multiple avenues becomes possible.

Sunday 17 July 2016


There are many different types of knowledge, from facts to opinions, trivial data to great wisdom. But one of the most important types is know-how. Often very difficult to write down, know-how is an understanding of a process or the expertise, required for a particular activity.

If you were to picture your own know-how as one part of your total knowledge, then it would be like the roots of a tree which lie below the earth's surface. In other words, know-how is not always immediately apparent, but it is fundamental to your learning. So it is important to learn the value of know-how and recognize how it can be applied in different circumstances.

Transferring know-how knowledge is a complex matter. One very important factor is the extent of our knowledge.You need to know enough about something before you can really use what we know effectively. So it is important to achieve an adequate level of knowledge before applying that knowledge elsewhere. The best example is the application of mathematics at school. The student needs an extensive knowledge of the mathematical concepts and operations involved before it needs to be applied.

In reality, know-how is acquired through regular practice and learning. Recognising what you know is a valuable asset and gives you confidence. So acknowledge what you are good at and set aside regular time to practice your skills. This helps to see how skill in one area can help you out in a different unfamiliar situation. For example, a child using a colour-coded table to list different kinds of chemicals in a science class might use the same idea to list dates and events in a history class. 

The bottom-line is : Identify your know-how and learn to use it the most effective way.