The idea of repeating the same story, singing a familiar nursery rhyme, or engaging in an identical activity might seem monotonous to adults, but for young children, it’s a great source of comfort and learning. In this blog, we delve into why repetition is far from boring; instead, it’s an essential and highly beneficial aspect of early childhood development.
Why Repetition Matters
To fully comprehend the significance of repetition in early childhood, it’s crucial to see it through the eyes of a child. Repetition is not about experiencing the same thing repeatedly; it’s about experiencing it differently each time. For children, the world is a labyrinth of new experiences, objects, and concepts they’re trying to understand. Repetition provides them with a sense of familiarity and predictability amid this chaos, making them more willing and eager to explore and engage.
Every day, children encounter a myriad of unfamiliar things. This constant stream of novelty can be overwhelming. While adults often seek novelty and enjoy new experiences, children thrive on the comfort of repetition. Every time they revisit an activity, the familiarity grows, reinforcing their self-confidence.
As adults, we also find value in repetition. Think about watching a beloved childhood movie like “The Little Mermaid.” It’s the same film, but every viewing reveals new details and perspectives. Repetition is not only for children; it’s a universal method of deepening understanding and gaining perspective.
The Benefits of Repetition
Repetition offers a dual advantage for young learners:
- Incremental Learning: Every repetition is an opportunity for children to grasp something new. When we encounter new information, our brains form neural pathways that require strengthening through repetition. For children, each repetition allows them to move from just experience to deeper understanding, exploring concepts to their fullest extent.
- Mastery and Confidence: A child’s world is full of challenges and unfamiliarity. Consider the task of learning a language—naming everything they see is an exhausting endeavour. Engaging in familiar, repetitive activities provides them with a comforting and secure environment in which to learn. The feeling of mastery that repetition offers lifts their self-esteem, making them more confident and sure learners.
Finding the Right Level of Complexity
Repetition’s value hinges on providing the right level of complexity. An activity should be complex enough to support deeper comprehension and learning but not so complex that it becomes confusing.
Creating a Repetition-Friendly Environment
Now, let’s explore how to foster repetition in early childhood education effectively:
- Explore the same activity on multiple occasions: When children are deeply engaged in an activity, don’t let it be a one-off. Incorporate it into your schedule for an extended period, allowing children to extract new learning from each repetition.
- Minimise changes as often as possible: While adaptability is vital in early education, constant changes can disrupt the comfort of repetition. Find a balance between updating the environment and providing continuity.
- Embrace Nursery Rhymes: Nursery rhymes are a staple of early education because they offer progressively engaging learning experiences. Children evolve from passive listening to active participation and even predicting changes.
- Enhance Storytelling: When reading familiar stories, experiment with different voices and involve children in discussions about how the narrative relates to their lives. This encourages emotional development and deeper engagement.
- Embrace interest-based exploration: Forced repetition isn’t effective. Allow children to explore their interests by providing flexibility in schedules. Prioritize moments when children are deeply engrossed in an activity.
- Understand when to offer assistance and when to stand back: Provide the right assistance at the right time. Sometimes, children need space to explore independently, while at other times, intervention is necessary to guide them.
- Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage children to explore activities further by asking open-ended questions that promote critical thinking and discussion. Delve into the “what,” “why,” “how,” and “where” to enrich their understanding.