At Tot Bop, we believe learning through an element of repetition is vital in helping children learn. This is why we re-visit some exercises for a few weeks at a time. It gives children a chance to grasp what is being asked of them and builds confidence and skills through familiarity.
Why we repeat and develop exercises
I often feel the need to explain to new Tot Bop parents why we repeat and develop exercises over a short period of time (3 weeks) before moving onto new challenges. In the fast paced world we live in, we have often become conditioned to expect new, fresh content all the time, otherwise it’s considered slow, boring or lazy even. There are plenty of classes out there who do a great job but who’s focus is purely on entertaining the children and parents each week, delivering brand new content each and every week. Too much change when children are trying to learn, in our experience, can very quickly lead to overwhelm, as the child doesn’t have an opportunity to solidify their learning before being faced with a new challenge.
Our focus at Tot Bop has always been to help children learn in a nurturing and fun way. All our exercises have been crafted to teach children something, be it a movement, sequence, rhythm or story. Therefore, in the delivery, it’s always been an important learning strategy to encourage learning through an element of repetition before moving on. Why? Because we believe an element of repetition helps build knowledge, skills and confidence.
Have you ever wondered why your child likes to re-watch the same episode of their favourite TV show over and over again? Or maybe they have a fixation on doing the same jigsaw puzzle time and time again or playing with the same particular toy. All of it is your child learning through repetition. They get excited as they watch/do/play, because they are learning new things and want to re-visit the activity to reinforce what they have already learnt, develop new skills and build new levels of understanding.
As adults, if we decide to start to learn a new language or develop a new hobby, we need to practice over and over again to get proficient and skilled. We aren’t suddenly able to speak French or play tennis after one lesson. The learning process requires repetition in order to progress. It is the same with children.
Key benefits of repetition
At Tot Bop, we recognise that all children need to learn through an element of repetition in order to gain knowledge, develop skills and build confidence. We believe repetition plays a crucial role in learning for several reasons. Here are a few key benefits of repetition in the learning process:
- Skill development
- Comprehension & understanding
- Fluency & mastery
Repetition helps reinforce and solidify new information or skills in memory. Through repeated exposure or practice, the brain strengthens the connections associated with the learning material, making it easier to recall and apply the knowledge later on.
Repetition enhances the retention of information over time, ie. it helps us hold onto what we have learnt. By revisiting and reviewing material multiple times, children have more opportunities to commit information into their long-term memory, increasing the likelihood of remembering it accurately and for longer periods of time.
In skill-based learning like dance, repetition is essential for building proficiency. Regularly practicing a task, activity or movement helps develop muscle memory, coordination and automaticity. Through repetition, children learn how to do a certain step or move, improving accuracy and enhancing overall performance.
Comprehension and understanding
Concepts, ideas or movement patterns often require multiple re-visits to develop a deeper understanding. Repetition allows children to approach the material from different angles, gaining new information and insights each time, building clarity and a more comprehensive understanding overall.
Fluency and mastery
Repetition is key to achieving fluency and mastery in any field. By repeating tasks or exercises, children become more comfortable and efficient, leading to increased speed, accuracy and confidence. Continuous repetition helps internalise knowledge or skills to the point where they become second nature.
However, it is a fine balance … too much repetition can equate to boredom and too little can cause overwhelm. So where do we sit?
Through trial and error, we’ve settled on a 3 weekly pattern in our face to face classes and a 2 weekly pattern in our online classes (because the weekly online class can be accessed more than once a week). Exercises are introduced in week 1, revisited and developed (depending on age) in week 2 and consolidated in week 3. For the older children in our ‘Groovy Movers’ (age 5-9) classes, due to the complexity of some of the work, certain exercises like their choreographed routine develops over the course of a half term, consolidating and adding a little more each week until they have built a full routine by the end of the block.
This approach has been proven to build knowledge, skills and confidence in all the children we teach, from our littlest ones in our Tiny Tots (age 1-2.5) class, right through to our oldest 8 and 9 year olds in our Groovy Movers (age 5-9) class.
Lastly, it is important to note that while we believe that repetition is vital to learning for the reasons stated above, it is just one learning strategy and is always balanced with other learning strategies in order to maintain engagement, promote understanding and provide a variety of learning experiences for the children.