Bottleneck Learning

My friend Janet home schooled her daughter who had Down syndrome. Janet recently shared with me a valuable learning picture that’s useful for all parents of students with memory limitations.

Picture a bottleneck

Janet visualizes her daughter’s memory as a bottle with a narrow neck. The bottom of the bottle, with plenty of storage, is her Long Term Memory. The neck of the bottle, with very limited space, is her Short Term Memory.

Janet found that she needed to dribble facts like the alphabet into her daughter’s mind very carefully. Otherwise, the bottle would fill too quickly, and the facts would bubble over the rim, lost from her memory. Very little would be retained over time unless Janet carefully measured the flow into her daughter’s mind.

Form realistic expectations

When her daughter was a preschooler, she brought her Sunday School verse home to memorize. Janet chose just eight words of the verse. If she had taught nine words, her daughter wouldn’t have been able to retain any of them. But with eight, she had a verse to say with her friends that next Sunday. And as she matured, that number grew slowly.

What’s the point?

Janet knew her daughter’s learning habits. If your child is having trouble learning, rearrange the learning situation. Small changes make sweet success.

Happy learning,
Dr. Everett

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