My child has poor 'Working Memory'.  What does this mean? 

Psychologists have known for a long time about ‘long term memory’ and how the brain stores information.  What is more recent knowledge is there isn't a 'short term memory', rather a part of the brain that psychologists call Working Memory. 
 Working Memory is a bit like a tradesman's work bench. All our 'tools' (information and sub steps to a task) are kept here and manipulated as need be. 

Most adults can hold about 8 items at a time.  For some children, it can be as low as 2-3 things. 

However, when information is presented or learnt in chunks (for example. learning a telephone number) and when new material is presented in a way that it can be attached to what is already known, the brain is more easily able to remember it.  (Imagine a new piece of wood being super-glued to an existing piece of wood already on the workbench. There are still the same number of 'items' on  the bench, just one piece is now larger than before because something new has been attached to it.)

If too much information is presented in one 'go' or if there is a disruption to the person's train of thought, all the items in the Working Memory are temporarily discarded and the 'bench is wiped clear', meaning the person must begin the process again.​​

7 strategies to help a child with poor working memory

* Always ensure any new information that is presented is linked to older, ‘known’ information
Ensure that the programs which are used are systematic and incremental in the way they introduce new material.
* Restrict the amount of new content being introduced at any one time.
Present new information in a variety of ways, with visual and concrete or physical activity reinforcements.
Regularly revise and reinforce previously taught words or concepts.
* Have prompts or visuals (such as charts) and concrete maths equipment readily available as helpers all the time.  
* Avoid stressful situations, such as timed tasks (speed maths, spelling competitions, etc), as stress causes the brain to be less efficient and ‘shut down’.