Math Success: Not Just IQ – Some kids have the Working Memory Advantage

Many bright students have a difficulty with math that puzzles their parents and teachers.

These students are bright enough and appear to understand the math concepts as they are practiced in class.

But for some reason this information is not recognized the next time the concept is presented.

The problem could be a difficulty with working memory.

We’ll be exploring the many facets of working memory in further posts, but first let’s look at what working memory is and what its role is in our lives.


Taking time to solidify math concepts.

Working memory gives you the advantage of managing information in your day to day life from birth to old age.

Simply put Working Memory is our ability to work with information. More precisely it is the conscious processing of information while simultaneously keeping us on task and blocking out distracting information

For example, a student in math class needs his working memory to hold on to new instructional information and apply it while screening out distractions such as other students moving in and out of the room, people chatting, the intercom buzzing or managing the  fear that he isn’t going to get it and  keep up in class.

In summary Working Memory enables us to do the following important tasks:

  • Prioritize information
  • Focus on important stuff
  • Think on your feet
  • Take smarter risks
  • Learn more easily in school
  • Make judgement calls
  • Adapt to new situations
  • Stay motivated to achieve long term goals
  • Stay positive in the midst of dire situations
  • Helps you to do the right thing in social interactions
  • Sift through options while considering others
  • Makes you a better team player

The list is a great reminder of how much we take our working memory for granted when it is working well for us.

We’ll explore these positive aspects of working memory in following articles as well as how working memory is disadvantaged in life, and of course in math.

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