One of our top tips for parents and teachers is if you want children to achieve or get better at something - then repeat, repeat and repeat again- every day- as often as you can.
Well , if we think of brain cells as houses in a village. If we walk backwards and forwards enough between the houses a path will form. The more often we walk backwards and forwards along the path, it will get bigger, more obvious and easier to see. It will become a road, and then with more traffic the path will become a highway that is super efficient and speedy. What’s more, the more often we make the journey between the houses, the more likely we will remember our way without thinking about it, without taking wrong turns and without a map.
This is how the brain works to remember or refine new learning; to make connections between the cells. Think of the houses as neurons or brain cells, the path the axons between these cells. Repetition and practice, constantly travelling the same path, aids the process of myelination –causing the axons to thicken and become coated in a fatty layer called myelin, or the path to become more obvious, automatic and efficient. The thicker the axons and myelin, the quicker and stronger the connections between the cells.- a super efficient highway!
Kids are myelin generating machines- soaking up all the information around them- Consequently, as adults the process of myelination becomes slower and it takes more effort But for kids repetition provides the practice that they need to master new skills. Repetition helps to improve speed, increases confidence, and strengthens the connections in the brain that help children learn.
Repeating the same things each and every day. That’s why here at Somerset Smyth structure and routine are so important. At group time, we sing the same songs, we chant the days of the week, we count, we focus on the same letter every day for a week, practicing its’ sound and formation over and over many times each day using the same words and the same actions. We practice and practice until it becomes automated, and then we build the next step on this.
Next time your child asks you to read the same book, play the same game or you see them repeating an action over and over, try to refrain from saying “chose something different!!” He is simply practising, and in doing so building fast, super efficient highways in his brain.