Short Term Memory Deficits in Children

School-aged children are often presented with a great deal of new information on a daily basis, according to the Center for Learning and Development, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching and learning. In many cases an efficient memory can be critical to a child's social and academic development and success. Children with short-term memory deficits may struggle with directions and problem solving in the school and home environments.


The Center for Development and Learning notes that children with short-term memory deficits often have problems remember information given during class lectures, reading or problem solving. A child may have satisfactory comprehension of what he sees or hears, but he may quickly forget the information or directions, leaving him unable to successfully complete tasks. In the home environment a child may forget directions or prompts, and he may also have difficultly remember steps in routines, such as organizing his belongings or completing homework.


Short-term memory deficits may be related to a variety of learning disorders of disabilities, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Visual and auditory processing disorders can present as short-term memory deficits. A child may have specific difficulty remembering what she sees or hears. In addition, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder can contribute to short-term memory problems, as the child may have difficult focusing on material or directions, causing her to forget information.


The National Center for Learning Disabilities suggests that many teachers or parents may misinterpret the signs of short-term memory deficits. Adults may assume that a child is purposely ignoring directions or is simply a slow learner. Without proper assessment, these misconceptions can lead to poor academic performance and even behavior issues at school or in the home.


The Center for Development and Learning notes that there are a wide variety of strategies and tools that children can use to assist with short-term memory deficits. Teacher should be encouraged to present material in visual and spoken formats, and children should repeat information out loud. Active reading strategies, such as highlighting and underlining key words or concepts, can also help children remember critical information. During math instruction, students should be asked to write out all of the steps and they should avoid mental computation.

Expert Insight

Sources at the National Center for Learning Disabilities encourage teachers and parents to communicate regarding a student's progress. If a child seems to be struggling with attention or short-term memory, and support interventions are not successful, it may be necessary to request an assessment to rule out a possible learning disability. By monitoring the child's progress and noting any improvements or ongoing issues, parents and teachers can assure early intervention and support.