Learning to talk and being able to read are complex, multifaceted, and highly beneficial undertakings. Thankfully, there are many ways we can help children expand their skills, knowledge, and vocabulary as they grow and develop. One step you can take when teaching and supporting a child as they learn is using repetition.
Just think how many times you use repetition in your everyday life.
You might chant the numbers of your licence plate so you’re ready for those roadside ticket machines. Your personal trainer might ask you to do an exercise multiple times until you know how to carry it out correctly and effectively. And if only we could get into the habit of repeating the name of someone new so that we don’t have those awkward moments we all know when it comes to meeting them again!
No matter our age or goal, repetition can be highly beneficial when it comes to learning, understanding, and remembering. But why is that so?
The importance of repetition can be overlooked and taken for granted. At Chatterbox, we encourage and facilitate the technique of repetition in many of our learning strategies, and we encourage you to do so, too.
What Happens When We Use Repetition?
There is a seemingly endless supply of words to learn in any language.
Before children begin to actively use words, they listen to them being used over and over again as people speak around them and to them. Even without formal direction or structure, they are absorbing the sounds, distinguishing the differences and similarities, and slowly aligning these to meanings. Just by listening to the same words, children are developing their literacy and speech skills.
When children start to use these words that they have listened to every day, they tend to start with one or two and use them again and again. “Mum, mum, mum. Da, da, da. No, no, no.” Their brains, ears, and mouths are getting used to the sounds, the positions of their lips and tongue, the meaning attached to each word, and the responses these words generate from other people.
One complexity of language is the similarity many words have to each other. Some have the same beginning sounds but end differently. One meaning can be expressed by several different words. Some words even sound identical but mean two completely different things! No wonder learning a word once just won’t cut it when it comes to communication.
Why Does Repetition Work?
Using repetition while learning to talk and read is not only useful at the word level. It is also vital when children start to form sentences. By using strings of words repetitively, they start to learn which combinations work best for the meaning they are trying to convey. Saying words and sentences more than once and in different orders and layouts allows kids to sort, compare, decipher, and learn.
Repetition also allows us to guide them. When we hear a child say a word or sentence incorrectly time and time again, we know they have not yet grasped the intricacies of it and require some help.
How Can We Use Repetition To Help Children Learn?
There are a variety of ways repetition can be employed. When we talk to babies, we quite naturally repeat our words and sentences to them. As they grow, there are activities you can do to take advantage of repetition while not making it boring. These may include:
- Choose a theme, such as farm animals, and create a game that requires the child to repeat specific words and to hear you repeating them too. For example, ask them to walk to their collection of toys and bring you the cow. “Can you please bring me the cow? Which one is the cow? I like cows. What sound do cows make? Did you find the cow? Oh, fantastic! You chose the cow! Well done.”
- When reading a book, repeat a sentence and ask questions about it. For example, “Johnny is going to the store for chocolate. Why do you think Johnny is going to the store for chocolate? Would you like to join Johnny when he goes to the store for chocolate?”
- Create a game that requires the child to choose the correct word. For example, write words that are the same with different meanings and ask them to fill in the blank within a sentence. For example, “Which word completes these sentences? Tessa (rode/road) her bike to school. Jack has a new (pair/pear of shoes).”
Learning Loves Repetition, Repetition, And Repetition.
As adults, it may feel arduous to listen to something that is repeated. We like to experience and explore new things. But for kids, repetition is comforting, reassuring, and fundamental to learning. Whether it be reading the same book every night or singing the alphabet song on loop, repetition helps children solidify what they need and want to learn.
At Chatterbox, our speech therapists encourage repetition and use this technique for many reading, speaking, and literacy difficulties and conditions. We can support your child as they learn and help you to assist them at home with useful and interesting repetition methods. Contact us today to discuss the importance of repetition and how we can help your child with our speech therapy for kids.