Repetition-a Fundamental of Early Childhood Education
The topic of ‘Early Childhood Education’ can be very debatable.
A couple of years ago when I used run a blog on same topic I used to receive some interesting and encouraging comments. Lot of them wrote to me that my blog was very informative and now they had more evidence to believe in the importance of early childhood education. While few others said that though they strongly recommend initiating an early learning process but had some doubts. They asked me what I had to say about the fact that most of the things that children learn before the age of three is easily forgotten.
My answer, I do not deny this fact at this point. But then let me think I was 18 years old when I started my Bachelor’s in Engineering. So do I remember everything that I learnt during my course (just because I was old enough)?
Of course not! 95 % is forgotten for good and 5% remains with me because I use in my days work even today. We all learn to do basic additions probably when we are 5 years old. Don’t we all remember it very well even today and we also do better than we did it at age 5.
So what have these examples got do in this context? Retention of facts or data has got nothing much to do with age. It depends more on the fact on how often this information is repeated and used. That is why I say Repetition- It can do magic it is fundamental building block of early childhood education. Once you have taught something to your child your job is not over. It has to be repeated again and again at regular intervals. With younger children (0-3 years) the gaps have to be shorter as compared with the older ones (3-6 years). The reason for smaller gaps with 0-3 years old is that their memories are short lived.
So you started teaching colors to your year old kid. You brought this beautiful book of colors and start to read it to him. The first couple of times he loves it. The book is new, its colorful and the names of colors are new and interesting. He is happy that he is learning something new.
Now you happened to read my blog post which said Repetition- It can do magic ! You decide to show this book twice a day for the next 10 days. What happens then? By the fourth day your child is going to run away at the sight of this book. Even worse he may chew the book or tear it into pieces. Sounds familiar isn’t it?
There are chances that this might not happen and you have a reverse situation. Your kid wants to indulge in the same book again and again till you want to run away :). Sounds familiar too? Lets discuss both cases.
#1: Every child is different and has to be treated differently. Kids with more curiosity and energy tend to get bored faster. This can be truer with kids of 3 or older. For such kids you have to add variety in your approach. Let’s consider the same case of reading the book of colors stated above. If your child seems bored add variety on the fourth day, take your child to a park. Yes, sure to play but also to learn colors again. I bet you he is not going to realize that.
When at the park you say, “Oh, look at those beautiful pink flowers”, “Lets sit on the green grass and relax”, “ Do you want to play on the red slide?”, “ Look at this your friend is wearing a beautiful green shirt” etc. Same colors, different approach, kids is not looking bored – Mission accomplished. You can use the same approach while dressing him up“ you are going to wear a red -T-shirt today”, “Blue pants”, “White socks” and a “Red cap”. You can go back to the book now after a gap of 2-3 days, probably he is less bored at the sight of it and may also start pointing at the right colors.
#2: For children in the second category you can call yourself ‘blessed’. Don’t get bored. Be patient and go on reading the book till your child is satisfied. But it is never a bad idea to add variation in the learning process. So do keep thinking of more creative ways to engage your child on various themes.
Whatever the category your children belong to you need to remember the fact that you need to keep repeating the information in different contexts. Try to use daily life situations to repeat things like:
Colors- They are everywhere so you have more opportunities
Shapes- Cut their cheese, sandwich in different shapes.
Numbers- Lets read 2 books today. Show 2 with your fingers. Similarly … number of toys … number of cookies. … number of cars …
By doing so the information is registered and they will retain it for longer periods of time. Read the signals from your child and take care not to overdo.
Happy Learning !