Today’s blog is a review of the book ‘How can I remember all that?” by Tracy Packium Alloway (Jessica Kingsley Publishers). It is reviewed by Sonia Edwards.
Children identify the daily difficulties they can experience with Working Memory but often they do not understand the reason they are having difficulty. Through Tommy, a funky character whose drawing was inspired by the author’s son, and Dr Packiam-Alloway’s writing, ‘How Can I Remember That?’ offers an easy to access explanation about Working Memory.
Working Memory is a difficulty that many dyslexics experience and being able to understand what it is and how it can be improved from the child’s perspective is inspirational. A psychologist with over a decade of research on working memory, Dr Alloway has written about Working Memory in a manner that is straightforward and inspires confidence.
Tommy’s voice reaches out to children, showing them that they are not alone and the difficulties they have with Working Memory are also experienced by others. An Introduction, four chapters and some notes for Grown-Ups keep the book short. No one will lose track of what they are reading. The chatty writing style and Tommy’s voice make sure it is never boring and everyone can understand. Supported by ideas such as Post-It notes and use of clear images, Dr Alloway takes a complex subject and makes it appear easy. Importantly, the section on ‘Notes for Grown-Ups’ ensures that they can learn how to help.
Introducing Tommy, along with an explanation about long-term memory and short-term memory versus working memory develops understanding before the later detail. While the section on ‘Working Memory in my brain’ introduces the idea of a team player. The idea of team is important for children with working memory difficulties as they are supported by a team – parents, teachers, peers – but in the book they learn that they can also access their own team with appropriate strategies. Confidence building and reassurance, very important elements for children who can find day to day a struggle.
Explaining why remembering things can be difficult and identifying things can be tricky in the first two chapters provides analogies with which children can identify. We all struggle with juggling balls on occasion and can get frustrated with others when they think we are not trying when we really are. Dr Alloway and Tommy help the child to see that this is not a bad thing, it is just a part of having a working memory difficulty.
Tips for improving your working memory – Tommy’s teacher Ms Higgins is great in Chapter 3 – are achievable and developing these ideas in Chapter 4 shows you can keep on improving your working memory. Being told doodling is okay – who isn’t going to love the idea of telling their teacher it’s helping with concentration and learning?
The final discussion about Keep it Simple will make many teachers review their classroom. It’s also an important message about working memory: we should all remember that techniques to help overcome aspects of the daily difficulty children experience are simple to introduce and develop.