Einstein Never Used Flash Cards coverEveryone who works with children aged five and under knows how kids of those ages love to have things repeated, and repeated, and… you know. I recently mentioned how I like to repeat the songs I sing in storytime, such as “The More We Get Together.” When I sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with toddlers and preschoolers, I sing it three times – once really slow, once normal speed, and once “fast enough to burn holes in your knees.” The younger they are, the more repetitions many children need to see and hear before you see their eyes light up and they’ve got it, and they’re ready to join in. And this afternoon I found a serendipitous quote about repetition.

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golikoff, and Diane Eyer wrote a book called Einstein Never Used Flash Cards (Rodale, 2003) that should be in every library’s parenting collection. The authors take aim at the “hurried child” syndrome that seems to drive many parents into getting their toddlers ready to enter Harvard by the time they complete their toilet training. Hirsh-Pasek, Golikoff, and Eyer instead want young children to learn the way they learn best – through playing, and yes, through slowly repeating things. Here they talk about educational TV shows that move at a young child’s pace:

We love Sesame Street, but there are also lessons in slow-moving, repetitive programs like Barney and Teletubbies that children enjoy. The developers of the famous show Blue’s Clues, for example, actually studied what children prefer in order to make their episodes maximally appealing. They found that children love repetition. Indeed, although it may be deadly for us (how many of us have fallen asleep midsentence?), children love to hear the same stories night after night – they get something new each time and enjoy finding predictable patterns.

So shall I tell you again? When you’re presenting songs and activities for young children, repeat generously.