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March 2, 2015

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: The Power of Repetition

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: The Power of Repetition

As a musician there were many long, tireless nights of repeating the same exact 12-note phrase over and over again until it sounded absolutely perfect. The same sentiment would be echoed insensory every encounter that I had with my studio lesson teacher. “How many times did you play this piece?” I would laugh and answer overdramatically “About a million.” His response was always the same “Well, it’s time to do it again.”

Mastery of a task cannot happen without repetition. Learning cannot happen without repetition. The beauty of being an Early Childhood teacher is that repetition happens in the most exciting of ways! Instead of sitting and staring at the same piece of music for hours on end, the repetition in the classroom consists of play. Young children innately adore the opportunity to repeat activities until finally, as adults, we don’t believe that they could possibly want to do it one more time, and then they do it again.

Repetition is important because it creates a pathway in the brain. When your little ones take part in that same activity over and over again, they are creating a memory. Think of the human brain as a highway. The more times that you travel down a specific set of roads, the more likely you are to remember how to get there. This is similar to what happens in our children’s brains as they repeat activities.  If too much time goes by, that skill or memory they have developed has the potential to be lost. The more opportunities that your children have to repeat patterns of thought, the more automatic a skill can become. When neurons connect it requires less electrical energy than activities where the neurons have a poor connection. When less electrical energy is required to perform a task, then multitasking becomes easier.

Curriculumneurons is designed intentionally to provide opportunities for creating those neural pathways. You may notice that many of the activities repeat themselves throughout the week. If we introduce children to new activities on a daily basis they will never be able to accomplish mastery of a task. Furthermore, if we spend time on an activity and do not return to the activity until it rolls around in curriculum a year from now we are doing our little ones a disservice. All of the hard work that they put into acquiring a new skill has the potential to be lost. As children frequently revisit tasks over time, they are more likely to carry that skill with them as they age.

If it appears that your children are becoming bored with an activity, find a new and exciting way to make it interesting again! For example, if you are picking up pompoms in the fine motor center and dropping them in a tube, add the extra challenge of picking up the pompoms with tweezers, change the length of the tubes, or show children how to drop colored pompoms into their corresponding tube. Your interactions and differentiation with a task will make it multitudes more interesting than a stand-alone center. Furthermore, differentiation of a task brings the opportunity to create multiple pathways and a greater understanding of the information being consumed.


Here are some suggestions for creating meaningful experiences while implementing curriculum:

  • Spend time and play with your little ones! You are “the most important person in the room!” It is likely wherever you place yourself is going to be the place that your little ones will want to be.
  • Add new and exciting materials to the center. Differentiating the activity in a way that will entice your students to play is a key component of being a responsive teacher.
  • Spark conversation. When you show interest in the learning that is happening, they are more likely to be interested in the learning that is happening!

Think about all of the learning and brain development that is happening the next time your children ask you to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for about the twentieth time or ask for the super fun Circle Time activity that you’ve been doing for the past month.



This resource discusses the importance of repetition in all forms of learning. Discover the importance of rereading a book or taking part in a gross motor activity again.: http://www.kbyutv.org/kidsandfamily/readytolearn/file.axd?file=2011%2F3%2F10+Learning+Through+the+Early+Years.pdf



Contributed by Toni LaMantia, Education Specialist