Original Research

The role of working memory in childhood education: Five questions and answers

Kate Cockcroft
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 5, No 1 | a347 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v5i1.347 | © 2015 Kate Cockcroft | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 September 2015 | Published: 04 September 2015

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Kate Cockcroft, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Working memory is the mental ability to temporarily store and manipulate information. Its functioning is distinct from the vast storage capacity of long-term memory and is crucial for optimal learning and development. There is considerable research on several theoretical aspects of working memory. Far less research has explored the application of such theory in order to understand how children perform in educational settings and to support and improve their academic performance. In this paper, five key aspects regarding working memory are considered and their implications for early childhood development, learning and education are discussed. These aspects include the role of the different components of working memory in early childhood learning, ways in which working memory is assessed in children, how verbal and visual working memory develop, how working memory difficulties manifest in children, and ways in which working memory can be improved.


academic success, cognition, development, learning, working memory


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