How repetition builds skills for success: practicing for possibilities - Student Resources

How repetition builds skills for success: practicing for possibilities

A student revises their work

Repetition builds for success in early learners by creating and reinforcing essential math and reading skills that provide them increased confidence.

As the Kumon Instructor at the South Guelph Centre in Ontario, Pam Kozak finds repetition is an effective, long-term process that that is integral to the Kumon Method. And it’s also one that is familiar and comfortable for early learners.

“As we know, little kids will listen to the same story over and over,” she says. “They’ll watch the same movie, same TV show, play the same videos over and over and over and over. So, repetition is not something that is uncomfortable for them or unfamiliar. It’s something that they tend to gravitate toward because familiar is comfortable for them.”

That repetition is a learning process that helps establish an enjoyable and comfortable academic base.

“They’ve got another 15 to 20 years or so ahead of them for school,” she says. “So, we don’t want to be that first impression that school is not fun. By using repetition, we want them to get really good at whatever it is that we’re focusing on, whether it’s math or reading.”

The Role of Repetition

What is repetition? Rather than a mindless task based on rote learning, repetition is a strategic practice. Beginning with basic concepts and gradually building to more complex ones, repetition reinforces the student’s understanding through repeated exposure and practice.

The repetitive exercises can look different depending on the child’s age and knowledge. Kumon students receive customized, individual learning plans that are developed by the Instructors that build upon the child’s abilities.

The Kumon Method focuses on the mastery of skills. When students repeat similar types of exercises and problems, they develop a deep understanding of underlying principles. The skill mastery enables students to approach more advanced topics with confidence throughout their academic career.

Repetition with Math and Reading

As students engage in repetitive practice within the Kumon framework, they are not merely preparing for exams or assessments; they are practicing for possibilities in math and reading.

“We want them to, in the math program, be really comfortable with the numbers one to 10, and then, one to 50,” Kozak says.

Those first number sequences are key to setting the foundations for math. Kozak finds repetition is helpful in learning 11 through 19.

“Those numbers are really hard because they break with the pattern for numbers one to 10,” she says. “So, for very young learners, that can be tricky, and we don’t want to rush through that. We want them to be really confident. The kids that do rush through get very confused between 12 and 21, 13 and 31. They reverse those and they’re not sure which is which when they see them.”

For early learners developing pre-reading skills, repetition of the alphabet and phonics is one of the best ways to learn. In Kumon, the first several reading levels are all done orally.

Memorizing the letters individually, outside of the popular song version, helps the students the most. The song version can muddy up the learning process in how it rushes through some parts, especially for students whose first language is not English.

“Little kids are sponges,” Kozak says. “They just can pull in so much information at such a rapid speed.”

Kozak advises parents to seek out reputable learning programs as they prepare their children for academic development. Parents often experience feeling overwhelmed and ineffective when trying to guide their children on their own.

“They don’t really understand the sequence of the building of language, from recognizing individual words to sounding out letters to blending letters and to knowing rule breakers and things like that,” she says. “What often ends up happening is that we see parents get frustrated with kids because they can’t read these simple books that they’ve got with them.”

Kumon’s process centres on mastery of skills. With the assistance of skilled and knowledgeable Instructors, students continue to practice their skills through repetition until they master them.

“So, I say to students and parents that I want this to feel super easy,” Kozak says. “If it feels super easy, then you’ve mastered it, and we’ll move on to the next level or the next concept.”