As parents, we assume that children get bored with reading the same book over and over, but contrary to this popular belief, children actually thrive on the predictability of such repetition.
Predictability is one of the most fundamental emotional and intellectual needs of a child and reading is the easiest way for a parent to almost exactly recreate an entire 20 minute experience over and over again, day after day.
- Predictability fulfils an emotional need.
Children thrive on routine because, in their world, repetition is comforting. As your little one sits snuggled close to you, being able to predict what is going to happen on the next page is the same as being able to predict his world and understand his place in it, making him feel safe and secure. In other words: it’s a way of finding a familiar place in the world.
- Repetition is key to learning.
Repetition is of course also a strong foundation of learning – because children learn through seeing, hearing and experiencing the same thing over and over again.
But, interestingly, for young children to learn new words quickly, it’s not only important for the words themselves to be repeated: the context in which the new words are presented should be repeated along with the words.
Children who ask for the same story to be read to them over and over again are more likely to acquire new vocabulary than children who get to listen to a new story every time.
Here’s an excerpt from an article that was published by the University of Sussex:
Psychologist Dr Jessica Horst and her team devised an experiment in which three-year-olds were exposed to two new words. Each word was a made-up name for an unfamiliar object (for example, a ‘sprock’, which was a hand-held device used for mixing food). Over the course of one week, one group heard three different stories with the same new words. Another group heard only one of the stories with the same new words. Each book contained drawings of the new objects.
When tested after a week, those who had heard just one story were much better at recalling and remembering the new words than those who had been exposed to three different stories.
Dr Horst says: “We know that the more books you have at home, the higher the academic achievement of children. But what we haven’t understood is actually how that learning happens. This research suggests that it’s not the number of books, but the repetition of each book that leads to greater learning.”
To read the full article go here. http://www.sussex.ac.uk/broadcast/read/7040
Words: Loren Stow with Lizette van Huyssteen