Executive Functions

5 Memory Games to Play at Home

Children with ADHD struggle with working memory, which can cause problems at school. Bolster their skills in a safe environment with these 5 fun memory games.

Phone screen covered with apps and time-wasting games
Apps on a phone screen, minions

> To help improve working memory, give your child a list of items (animals, say) and ask him to repeat it backward. Start with three items and add more as he improves. Help him think of strategies for managing longer lists. Does visualizing each item make it easier for him?

> Ask your child to count two different types of items at one time. As you drive, have her keep track of the number of red and green cars she sees. (Suggest that she count green cars by saying “G1, G2” and red cars by saying “R1, R2” instead of counting both sets together.) As she becomes comfortable with her strategy, challenge her to keep track of a third color.

> Have your child estimate the answer to a math problem using mental math before solving it with pencil and paper. In the grocery store, ask him to calculate how much four avocados will cost if each one costs 50 cents. He can check the receipt to see if he’s right. Or dictate age-appropriate multistep problems – (4×3) + (2×2) — while waiting in line to check out.

> Note-taking is tough for kids who struggle with working memory. Have your child make notes about the chores you expect her to do as you dictate them. (Be patient; this takes time to master.) Or make her the list maker when the family fires off suggestions for movies.

> When making a sundae or a pizza, challenge kids to remember all of the ingredients in order. Hint: try acronyms. S.C.O.P. might remind them to put sauce (S), cheese (C), olives (O), and pepperoni (P) on a pizza crust. Practice in the kitchen can prepare a child to remember multi-step instructions in the classroom.

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