Repetitive play

Posted in Imaginary play, Play. Posted on by Jacob Lett

Does your child have a favorite song or book that they want to hear over and over again? Or how about rebuilding a tower of blocks just to have them tumble to the ground all over again.

Children learn best when they repeat something that is familiar. By doing something over, the child is able to “master” the behavior for themselves. This is why children love to mimic the speech and behaviors of adults. This repetition develops the brain pathways to foster learning.

This Christmas, my wife made crochet puppets and we gave them to our ten nieces and nephews. We thought it would be fun to record a video of a few of the puppets singing the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” as a way to introduce our gift. We gathered everyone together, turned down the lights, and pressed play. As soon as the video had finished playing, we handed every family a box containing six different puppets.

Then the unexpected happened, our 4 year old nephew Luke yelled excitedly, “Let’s all do it together!”, as he jolted his puppeted arms in the air. So then all of the children stood in front of the television and mimicked the puppet actions as we played the video another time. It was great.

A few days later, we found out Luke had been requesting to watch the same video at home over and over and over again. He has been trying to master the same puppet motions at home.

For adults, repetition can seem just that, repetitive. However, to a child repetition is their way of mastering a fun and memorable experience. Imagine seeing a puppet for the first time and not fully understanding how to make the mouth work. A child uses repetition to become intimately familiar with a skill or experience so they can add it to their library of knowledge.

Below is the video we showed

Practice makes permanent

When I first started learning how to draw I remember hearing the advice to practice. It takes discipline to do anything consistently because it becomes repetitive and boring. However, if you understand the goal is to build proficiency, practice will become a routine, and you will reap the benefits as you apply your skill. Whether it is drawing, shooting a basketball, or making a puppet talk – practice makes us skilled.

The dictionary defines practice as, to perform a skill repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. Even as adults, practice is how we learn.

What does your child like to repeat?

Leave your answer in the comments below.