Concordia University study: Long-term benefits of improving your toddler’s memory skills

15 Jan

MedicineNet.com defines working memory in the article, Definition of Working memory:

Working memory is a system for temporarily storing and managing the information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. Working memory is involved in the selection, initiation, and termination of information-processing functions such as encoding, storing, and retrieving data.
One test of working memory is memory span, the number of items, usually words or numbers, that a person can hold onto and recall. In a typical test of memory span, an examiner reads a list of random numbers aloud at about the rate of one number per second. At the end of a sequence, the person being tested is asked to recall the items in order. The average memory span for normal adults is 7 items. http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7143

The University of Pennsylvania researchers studied working memory in a longitudinal study. See, Penn and CHOP Researchers Track Working Memory From Childhood Through Adolescence http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/news/penn-and-chop-researchers-track-working-memory-childhood-through-adolescence

Science Daily reported in Early intervention: New research shows that preschoolers with poor short-term recall are more at risk of dropping out of high school:

If your toddler is a Forgetful Jones, you might want to help boost his or her brainpower sooner rather than later. New research shows that preschoolers who score lower on a memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 12.
“Identifying students who are at risk of eventually dropping out of high school is an important step in preventing this social problem,” says Caroline Fitzpatrick, first author of a study recently published in Intelligence, and a researcher at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre.

She and the study’s other researchers, who are affiliated with the Université Sainte-Anne and Université de Montréal, have suggestions for how parents can help kids improve their memory.

The study examines responses from 1,824 children at age two and a half, and then at three and a half. That data is then compared to the school-related attitudes and results of these children when they hit grade seven.

Results were clear: those that do better on a memory-testing imitation sorting task during toddlerhood are more likely to perform better in school later on — and therefore more likely to stay in school. The imitation sorting task is specifically effective in measuring working memory, which can be compared to a childs mental workspace.

“Our results suggest that early individual differences in working memory may contribute to developmental risk for high school dropout, as calculated from student engagement in school, grade point average and whether or not they previously repeated a year in school,” says Fitzpatrick.

“When taken together, those factors can identify which 12 year olds are likely to fail to complete high school by the age of 21.”
Help at home

“Preschoolers can engage in pretend play with other children to help them practise their working memory, since this activity involves remembering their own roles and the roles of others,” says Linda Pagani of the Université de Montréal, co-senior author.
“Encouraging mindfulness in children by helping them focus on their moment-to-moment experiences also has a positive effect on working memory….” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160112125425.htm

Citation:

Long-term benefits of improving your toddler’s memory skills
Early intervention: New research shows that preschoolers with poor short-term recall are more at risk of dropping out of high school
Date: January 12, 2016

Source: Concordia University

Summary:
Preschoolers who score lower on a memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 12, new research shows. In a new article, the authors offer suggestions for how parents can help kids improve their kid’s memory.

Journal Reference:
1. Caroline Fitzpatrick, Isabelle Archambault, Michel Janosz, Linda S. Pagani. Early childhood working memory forecasts high school dropout risk. Intelligence, 2015; 53: 160 DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2015.10.002

Here is the press release from Concordia University:

The long-term benefits of improving your toddler’s memory skills

Early intervention: a researcher at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre finds that preschoolers with poor short-term recall are more at risk of dropping out of high school

Montreal, January 12, 2016 — If your toddler is a Forgetful Jones, you might want to help boost his or her brainpower sooner rather than later. New research shows that preschoolers who score lower on a memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 12.

“Identifying students who are at risk of eventually dropping out of high school is an important step in preventing this social problem,” says Caroline Fitzpatrick, first author of a study recently published in Intelligence, and a researcher at Concordia’sPERFORM Centre.
She and the study’s other researchers, who are affiliated with the Université Sainte-Anne and Université de Montréal, have suggestions for how parents can help kids improve their memory.

The study examines responses from 1,824 children at age two and a half, and then at three and a half. That data is then compared to the school-related attitudes and results of these children when they hit grade seven.

Results were clear: those that do better on a memory-testing imitation sorting task during toddlerhood are more likely to perform better in school later on — and therefore more likely to stay in school. The imitation sorting task is specifically effective in measuring working memory, which can be compared to a childs mental workspace.

“Our results suggest that early individual differences in working memory may contribute to developmental risk for high school dropout, as calculated from student engagement in school, grade point average and whether or not they previously repeated a year in school,” says Fitzpatrick.

“When taken together, those factors can identify which 12 year olds are likely to fail to complete high school by the age of 21.”
Help at home

“Preschoolers can engage in pretend play with other children to help them practise their working memory, since this activity involves remembering their own roles and the roles of others,” says Linda Pagani of the Université de Montréal, co-senior author.
“Encouraging mindfulness in children by helping them focus on their moment-to-moment experiences also has a positive effect on working memory.”

Pagani also notes that breathing exercises and guided meditation can be practised with preschool and elementary school children. In older kids, vigorous aerobic activity such as soccer, basketball and jumping rope have all been shown to have beneficial effects on concentration and recall.

The researchers note that another promising strategy for improving working memory in children is to limit screen time — video games, smartphones, tablets and television — which can undermine cognitive control and take time away from more enriching pursuits.
“Our findings underscore the importance of early intervention,” says Fitzpatick.

“Parents can help their children develop strong working memory skills at home, and this can have a positive impact on school performance later in life.”

Partners in research: First author Caroline Fitzpatrick is a researcher at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre and a professor of psychology at Université Sainte-Anne. Co-senior author Linda Pagani is a professor at the École de Psychoéducation at the Université de Montréal and a researcher at the Centre de recherche du CHU Sainte-Justine. The study was conducted and supported by the Groupe de recherche sur les environnements scolaires.

Source
Cléa Desjardins
Senior Advisor
Media Relations
514-848-2424 ext. 5068
clea.desjardins@concordia.ca
@CleaDesjardins

Parents can help foster curious kids.

Justin Coulson writes in the article, Raising smart, curious children:

Parents can do several things that will foster curiosity and a love of learning in their children, and help them grow up intellectually stimulated and successful.
• Model a love of learning. Be seen reading, finding answers, and discovering things yourself. Your children will watch and learn from you.
• Embrace the motto “we try new things”. Whether it is a new meal, a new sport, a new holiday destination, or a new way of cleaning the house, let your children know that you want to try new things and discover things you previously did not know much about.
• Teach your children to find answers. When your children ask you a question, rather than answering them directly encourage them to find out for themselves. Point them to references, the Internet, or other useful sources.
• Ask questions. If your child is curious about something, find out why. Encourage discussion. Find out what s/he knows already. When your child makes a statement (about anything) you can ask “why” and have an interesting conversation. Your demonstration of curiosity can be a terrific example to your children
• Be willing to talk. It is often easy for a parent to say “I’ll tell you later”, or “Not now, I’m busy.” Such responses will dampen the enthusiasm and curiosity a child has for a subject. Be being available, your child will be able to pursue a love of learning and all you have to do is facilitate it.
• Provide tools for learning by visiting the library, buying books from the shops, and having access to the Internet available for appropriate learning activities.
• Eliminate the use of rewards for learning. Research shows that the more we reward someone for a task, the less interested they become in the task. When rewards are offered, people generally become more interested in the reward than in the process required to obtain the reward. Instead, encourage curiosity for its own sake….. http://www.kidspot.com.au/schoolzone/Study-tips-Raising-smart-curious-children+4165+304+article.htm

Education is a partnership and parents must help educators foster curiosity in children.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
Albert Einstein

Resources:

How Can Teachers Foster Curiosity?                                                                             http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/06/04/33shonstrom.h33.html

How to Stimulate Curiosity
How to Stimulate Curiosity

Six ways to build greater curiosity in students
http://edge.ascd.org/blogpost/six-ways-to-build-greater-curiosity-in-students

How to Ignite Intellectual Curiosity in Students
http://www.edutopia.org/blog/igniting-student-curiousity-inquiry-method

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