We thought we would put together a few thoughts on the power of repetition in Montessori.
We recently had the good fortune of having a conversation with one of our parents about the nature of repetition in the Montessori classroom. The discussion with this father was prompted by us, recounting a fairly typical question from prospective families: "Once my child has completed the activities, won't they exhaust the possibilites of the classroom?"
This question takes us to the heart of repetition. It also takes us to the heart of Montessori. You see, the Montessori classroom was not built to be accomplished in an afternoon. Like all good things, it takes time to progress, and master not only the concepts, but your movements as well.
It's also important to remember that Montessori is here to accommodate a wide spectrum of interests, individuals and abilities. Academically, the later work in a Montessori classroom is the equivalent of a third grade public school education. This is not to say, however, that every child will accomplish all of these activities. Nor is it to say that these activites won't be reached. It's merely to state, that we're here to support each, individual student and their unique needs and learning styles. This is why the prepared environment of Montessori was established.
We live in a society where the idea that knowledge is something that can be downloaded is rather widespread. We see this notion disseminated everywhere. For us, even if you can download Ulysses on your Kindle, it might take years to truly come to terms with what Joyce was laying out. Reading takes practice, like so many other things.
Montessori herself said, to paraphrase: "Everyone can read Shakespeare, but how many people truly understand it?" This leads us back to the question of repetition. Why repetition? Well, it helps us focus. It helps us concentrate. It gives us confidence. It also helps us to "perfect" and refine our senses, as we learn to navigate and appreciate the world. Repetition takes perseverance and determination. What beautiful characteristics to develop.