Ellie Boylan and Sophie Quinn, Assistant Educational Psychologists share their experiences of using MeeMo as a working memory intervention at Our Lady’s and St Edward’s Primary School in Birkenhead.
Working with Our Lady’s and St Edward’s Primary School involves liaising with staff, parents and the Educational Psychologist to gather, analyse and share information in order to support children and help them achieve their potential. We work with individuals and groups of children running working memory, Coping Power, social skills and flexible thinking interventions, alongside many others! We are also invested in integrating psychological principles into the wider school setting, including the addition of a “Character Strengths” rewards system. We are also currently working alongside another local school and Edge Hill University to conduct some research into the downstream effects of MeeMo on maths and reading ability, self-efficacy, meta-cognition and test anxiety.
Our working memory is our ability to store, manipulate and retrieve information. As such, it is vital for everyday tasks such as writing down a phone number, following a set of instructions or solving mathematical problems in our head. For all of these tasks, we must take in the information, store it in our heads and be able to access it in a different way, whether that is by translating information we have heard into writing, mentally ticking off the steps of a task we have already completed, or holding the answer to one part of an equation in mind while we solve another part. In school settings, working memory is becoming more widely recognized as a limiting factor for many children. This means if we can increase a child’s working memory ability, we can increase their academic potential and that is just what MeeMo aims to do.
Why Working Memory Is Important for Learning
Children struggling with their WM may or may not have learning difficulties such as dyslexia, ADHD and dyscalculia. Children with working memory difficulties can be identified by making errors such as:
- missing out letters in a word, or words in a sentence
- forgetting instructions
- finding mental maths activities significantly harder than paper based ones
- struggling to write and listen at the same time
We identified children who had lower working memory abilities using the screening method incorporated in the MeeMo packs. The short term memory assessments tested their ability to store and retrieve simple information (a list of numbers) and the working memory (WM) assessments tested their ability to store, manipulate and retrieve information (repeating numbers in reverse order).
MeeMo at Our Lady and St Edwards’ Catholic Primary
Although MeeMo is designed as a whole class working memory training programme, at OLSE, we took the opportunity to implement it as an intervention for smaller groups of children who were really struggling with their working memory. Between Easter and summer of 2015, we ran a Year 3 and a Year 4 MeeMo group. Each of these consisted of 6 children who were identified as “disadvantaged” or “extremely disadvantaged” in terms of working memory capacity by the screening tests. We also consulted with the teachers to decide who would benefit most from intervention.
The group took place for around 20 minutes, for four days a week. The children loved coming out of class to play the game and as it is only for a short period of time, they could catch up on any work quickly. It provides a great opportunity for the children to work with others they don’t normally work with and the progress books instill a sense of achievement when children see how much they are improving. It has also been evident how much confidence this programme has given certain children, who were unsure of “having a go” at the start of the sessions and will now persist until they get the correct answer.
We ran the intervention group for two half terms, rather than one as MeeMo is designed for and so incorporated other activities to ensure that children remained motivated and focused on their learning. We supplemented our WM groups with some pen and paper based activities, which enabled the children to generalize their memory strategies to more classroom-like academic tasks and also introduced the children to CogMed.
Additionally, we used the WM training as a way to enable parents to become more involved with their children’s learning. We invited the parents of our intervention children into school to have a go at MeeMo themselves. Most were shocked at how challenging some of the tasks were! All parents were enthusiastic and could instantly see why this programme would benefit their child. We took the opportunity to provide them with some similar games and activities to carry on working memory training at home.
The children say:
“I love MeeMo!”
“It’s helped my memory like in school when (the teacher) asks me to do something, but for things at home too”
“I like it ‘cause you can do an easy one if you want to, but then if it’s too easy you can choose a harder one to make you try and remember harder”
“I like it ‘cause you do a different one everyday”
“To test the impact of MeeMo, we matched each child from the intervention group with two children of the same gender, from the same class and closest in age, then retested their working memory abilities”
“As can be seen, MeeMo massively improved children’s working memory abilities. Longer term, we are hoping the children can apply these skills to other areas, which will enable them to learn more efficiently and succeed!”
TagsIntervention and SEN