Learning Apps & Tools

9 Apps and Tools That Build Better Retention

These 9 apps, games, and other tools can help your child improve his working memory — retaining more of what he works so hard to learn.

ADHD kids play apps that build social skills
ADHD kids play apps that build social skills

COGMED WORKING MEMORY TRAINING (cogmed.com) — the only working memory product with double-blind studies to back up its claims. Cogmed is a research-based, clinically proven computer program designed to improve memory capacity through targeted, regimented exercises. Through a series of 12 challenging games, the Cogmed program aims to enhance verbal, visual, and spatial memory. Cogmed may create changes in the brain that improve memory.

ELEVATE (iOS and Android) — an app that personalizes a training regimen for each user, depending on his or her goals. The user can play 30-plus games that boost memory skills, focus, and processing speed. The games are designed in collaboration with experts in neuroscience and cognitive learning.

FLASHCARDS+ (iOS) — an engaging and fast-paced app to bolster the studying process and exercise working memory. Users can choose subjects and categories from a user-curated bank of topics or create their own flashcards. The app also allows you to track your results and your speed.

[Test: Does Your Child Have a Working Memory Deficit?]

STACKING (Available on Amazon.com) — a puzzle video game that requires players to use working-memory skills. You start as a small stacking doll and you must “stack” into larger dolls of the same variety to solve the puzzle. Players must recall where they discovered those dolls in each level.

BRAIN AGE (Nintendo 3DS) — a fun set of games and exercises to challenge the brain. There are three different versions of the game, all of which challenge working-memory skills, using math and logic activities. In “Head Count,” a player sees a house in which stick figures enter from the left and exit from the right. The task is to count the people as they move in and out, figuring out how many people are in the house at the end of the game.

SUDOKU (Android, iOS, Facebook, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PSP, and online) — a popular game, available as an app, on consoles, and online that requires players to make informed choices, trying different combinations of numbers to narrow down the possible answers. Players have to retain information as they continue solving the puzzle.

SIMON SAYS CLASSIC AND EXTREME (iOS) — a video game with working memory exercises that require players to memorize an ever-increasing sequence of colors and sounds. It can be played in a four-color mode, or the more challenging nine-color mode.

[15 Memory Exercises for Forgetful Kids]

DUAL N-BACK GAME (iOS and Android) — A classic working-memory training app with solid research to back up the benefits. In general, N-Back tasks present an ongoing sequence of stimuli (in this case, pictures), and the player’s job is to indicate when the picture he sees matches a picture that was seen “n” steps earlier in the sequence. One study suggests that playing N-Back games can result in long-term working-memory improvement.

MEMORY BIRDS N-BACK GAME (iOS and Android) — a fun memory-based video game directed at younger kids that exercises visual-spatial working memory. Players are given a sequence of birds to remember and then asked to recall a step in that sequence. As questions are answered, the sequence gets longer. When a player answers all of the questions correctly, he earns stars.

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