Memory Mates Parents' Guide

Memory Mates for Parents Working with their Child at Home

The downloadable booklet for parents (Parents’ Guide) is intended as a supplement for parents, carers, older siblings, tutors and others to the revised booklet written for teachers entitled Memory Mates: A classroom-based intervention to improve attention and working memory in primary-aged students (Sheldon, L., Davis, N., & Colmar, S.; 2015; revised 2020). The teachers’ booklet is also downloadable from the website www.memorymates.education

Although the word parent is used throughout the booklet and these notes, it is intended that all the persons noted above may also use the guidelines and undertake this supportive and vital individualised role, both to encourage and guide children experiencing difficulties in attention and working memory.

These guidance notes and additional icons are designed to support parents in two contexts:

  1. Parents working with their child individually at home in backing up a school-based working memory program such as Memory Mates. In this case, as a parent, you may receive additional support and information from your child’s teacher. Further, you may be focussed particularly on using the Memory Mates strategies in supporting your child to complete their homework successfully and, ideally over time, to complete these tasks or activities independently.
  2. Parents working with their child at home, having located and downloaded materials from the Memory Mates website independently. In this case using the teacher-oriented booklet is crucial, as key explanations and details of how to use the icons are in this booklet. The booklet is classroom-focussed and therefore adaptations to a home context and home activities that are not homework or school-based are necessary. Nevertheless, a structured way initially to practice and work with your child using Memory Mates is in encouraging and guiding them to complete their homework or a school project. Therefore, for simplicity the new booklet for parents describes supporting your child using Memory Mates in a typical academic task, possibly a homework task. However, Memory Mates can be applied to sport, playing games, completing a household activity such as baking, walking outdoors together, going to the beach and so on.

In most instances, it is good to introduce Memory Mates in the home context at a specific time and before applying them to tasks at home, even if your child has already used Memory Mates at school. Discuss the icons and what they mean with your child, allowing them to contribute and explain to you what they think they might mean, as much as possible. You may wisely focus on three or four icons only at the beginning and introduce the others as seems appropriate. The order is logical; however, if your child already uses Picture It and likes it, then you might begin there.

Importantly, the suggestions and explanations in the parent information notes are generally aimed at parents with children aged seven to twelve. Key adjustments would need to be made for younger children and also for adolescents.

Another point to note is that not all icons apply every time and, particularly once your child is familiar with them (and they also need to have their own copy), they may choose which apply for a certain task, and may also spontaneously use switching on, listening and downloading.

The last two points to note are that, firstly, there is some overlap in what skills and strategies can be part of a particular icon and secondly, as noted above, the icons do not have to be used in the order provided. Our research has confirmed that some children preferred using some icons over using others. As long as the child moves towards successfully completing tasks well, then your support for them as a parent can be adapted and reduced.

Finally, if your child shows certain insights about how and when they use Memory Mates, it would be great if you could share these with us as we are continuously developing Memory Mates and know that the child’s view is crucial. You can email your feedback to susanhcolmar@gmail.com. Further, we also welcome your feedback as a parent as this also assists us in developing and adapting Memory Mates.