Have you ever found yourself tucking your child's favourite book deep into the book case in the hope that you'll finally get to read something new today?
You're not alone. As adults we don't generally find a repeated experience all that interesting. We crave something new and unexpected.
But children in the early years love repetition. Repeating an activity or experience is what helps children learn and develop in these formative years.
The Science of Repetition
If you've ever found yourself doing something like driving a car or even rocking a pram with no baby in it, you've been relying on the neural connections in your brain that make something automatic and almost effortless. Neural connections in our brains enable all of our brain functions.
But children are only just starting to create these neural connections in their brains. Neural connections begin to form when the brain experiences something for the first time. As the experience is repeated, the connections get stronger and stronger.
Stronger neural connections early in life lead to more functional brains.
Why Repetition Matters
If strengthening your child's brain development isn't enough alone, other benefits of repetition include:
Giving a sense of security: There are so many things that children don't understand in the world around them. The world can seem confusing and uncertain. The predictability and certainty of repetition can help children to feel more secure.
Learning something new: Even though to us it may seem like children are doing the same thing over and over, they are in fact learning something new with each repetition. Perhaps the first few times they use a shape sorter they're learning about trial and error. The next few times they might have some memory of where certain shapes go. As time goes on they'll be colour matching and shape matching and eventually learning how to identify the different shapes by their properties.
Increasing self-confidence: As children repeat an experience, their knowledge increases. When children begin to feel confident and secure in their knowledge, their self-confidence grows.
Teaching the importance of practice: Even as adults, repetition and practice are important for mastery. Making repetition a part of learning from an early age teaches children the importance of the old phrase 'practice makes perfect'.
Ways You Can Help at Home
1. Repeat Activities
If children are really engaged in an activity, do it again another day or do it for longer. They won't be bored by it and will be learning something new each time.
2. Keep Things Familiar
Being comfortable is one of the reasons why repetition is so important, so make sure the home environment stays comfortable and familiar too. This means keeping routines for certain times of day, keeping their toys and books in the same places and being consistent in your actions and responses.
3. Read Books