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The Glory of A Mom Repeating Herself

The Glory of A Mom Repeating Herself

Do you feel like you are saying the same thing to your children again and again and again? When will they ever learn? Take heart mamas, the process of repetition, of hearing your voice again and again is a good work, and its shaping their minds, their learning and their character!

I have to admit that I would be indignant when my high school Spanish students would pass a test in my class with flying colors and then not be able to recall that information a few weeks later. I knew that student cramming was a part of that, but some of my students were really hard workers and still weren’t always able to recall information over which they had been tested.

When Dr. Kevin Washburn came to our school for an inservice training recently, he said something that changed my classroom. 

He told us that learning isn’t just about taking in information. It's also about retrieving the information.

“How many times do you think a student has to retrieve a piece of knowledge, before he truly is demonstrating that he's got it?” he asked. 

How many times?

That question has been ringing in my ears. How many times does the student have to retrieve the information?

I would like to bring this idea into motherhood.

Most of us ask a question, but it comes out in a huff: “How many times do I have to tell you to pick up your towel?”

What if we point a new question at ourselves?

Repetition is one of the best tools for training a child.

So you ask your child to pick up his wet towel from the floor and hang it up. That means you have given an instruction, and you check to see that he has retrieved that information and has acted on it. How many times do you think you’re going to have to repeat that same process, before your child retrieves that information on his own? Maybe 50 times. 

Is that bad? Is repetition bad? Is your child stupid? Are you a failure?

No. Repetition is good teaching.

We should instruct and give an opportunity for retrieval.

Instruct, given an opportunity for retrieval.

Instruct, given an opportunity for retrieval.  

I’d love to give moms a clicker like the people at the front door of Costco have. Give an instruction,

Click, click, click.  

Just keep counting -47, 48, 49. Two years, three years, four years. Just keep telling them what you want them to do and giving them an opportunity to retrieve the information -no frustration necessary.

“What do you say?” you tell your daughter. She retrieves the information you’ve taught her and says, “Thank you.”  

“What do you say?” Retrieval. “What do you say?” Retrieval. “What do you say?” Retrieval. One day she says thank you without you having to reminder her, and you have to sit down before you pass out. 

Repeated teaching and retrieval is excellent teaching. Write that statement on a note card and put it above your kitchen sink, as a reminder to chew on for the next week.) 

And now the encouraging word: I have two adult children, and I stand as a witness that repeated instruction works. My children now get up from the table and say, “Thank you for the good dinner, mom.” They clear their places and push in their chairs. Do you have any idea how many times I had to instruct and wait for them to retrieve that information before they finally internalized it and started doing it on their own? 

Repetition and retrieval, sisters! 

With love from Montana, 

Christy Fitzwater

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