[Reprinted with permission from Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents' Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning (2008) by Joyce Cooper-Kahn, Ph.D. and Laurie Dietzel, Ph.D., Woodbine House, Bethesda, MD. For more information, visit the authors' site at www.latelostandunprepared.com.]
Accommodate working memory weaknesses by providing reasonable supports. For students with weak working memories, it can be very difficult to listen for learning and to write at the same time. For these students, taking notes may impede learning, and the notes that they do take are likely to be incomplete.
- Set up a system for getting the day's notes from a peer buddy or from the teacher. This should be set up as a daily routine, rather than expecting the student to make the choice each day and then to arrange to get the notes.
- Allow the student to use a voice recorder to record the day's lecture, and then she can review it later and take notes at home. Note that this requires a lot of extra time at home to review the day's learning. Not all students are willing or able to put in that much extra time.
- Make the note-taking process easier and more productive by providing an outline at the beginning of the class with space for the student to fill in specific information. This serves as a preview of the new material and also highlights the important information that the teacher is expecting the student to take away from the lesson. Looking at that outline later also allows the student and the adults to determine whether or not the student has gotten the most important information written down.
- Minimize copying from the board. This seems like such a straightforward task, but can be very difficult for some students. Copying from the board requires students to keep information in their heads as they transfer it from the board to the paper. The children have to keep track of what they last wrote, keep that in mind as they look back up at the board, find where they left of, look at the next few letters or words, carry the information back to the paper, and keep it in their heads long enough to finish writing it down.
- Request that your child be assigned a "note buddy," a child in the class who takes complete notes and makes them available for your child to photocopy.
- Ask the teacher to provide a copy of her own notes for the day's lesson.
- Ask the teacher if a "study guide" outlining the main points will be a part of the end-of-unit study packet. Study guides allow the student to review what the teacher feels is the most important information from the unit.