“Repetition is the mother of learning.”
Mention this saying to my children and they will probably muster a dramatic eye roll for you. Truth be told, we memorize a lot of things in our homeschool. Not because I adhere to everything “classical education” but because repetition comes so naturally to them in this stage of learning, and being able to recall important information when studies become much more demanding saves time and enables students to apply themselves to understanding more whys instead of whats. I am not sure if Susan Wise Bauer would agree with me, but this was the main theme I gleaned from reading the Well-Trained Mind. It’s incredible to me how much better the kids are at memorizing than I am. Adult brains just aren’t as pliable, so now is the time for this very method of study.
Memorization and recitation are all well and good, but trying to add up all the information from all the subject areas we are studying for all five of my students and trying to get through it all every day or even once a week (the only way memorization will work) is quite a daunting task. We’ve got geography songs, math facts, poetry, Scripture, Latin vocabulary, parts of speech, Hebrew vocabulary, and the list goes on for each grade level! This is not even to mention the children memorizing their music and practicing their stringed instruments and piano every day. How can we possibly get to it all often enough to learn everything without burning everyone out? I don’t want memorization to be a drudgery, but I desperately want it to be a worthwhile endeavor.
Trying to fit everything into our school day has plagued me ever since we started adding memorization to the daily schedule. I could easily see just how much time we’d be spending in drilling with so many levels and interests. Right now we are memorizing Psalm 91, and it is very clear to me that Noah and Hosannah, my five year old twins, are so adept at cementing those words that I want to jump on the opportunity to get important tidbits into their little brains before my window of opportunity closes. How much easier ALL of their math will be if we just get some of those pesky facts down! Since repetition does take a chunk of the day, I don’t want to sacrifice Scripture for the sake of Latin vocabulary or geography songs for poetry but until just recently I had no idea how I was going to manage it all without making circle time go on f.o.r.e.v.e.r.
Enter mp3 players with personalized playlists. We have a few of those little players lying around that we use for working out, and they are simple enough to be kid friendly for this very task. Now, instead of keeping everyone sitting still and focused during circle time and going through each child’s songs, maps, and flashcards, something that takes an hour at best if we try to get everything for everyone in, they can disperse to wherever they want (even outside!) after Bible time every day and listen to their OWN playlists! I can even schedule the twins’ little grammar poems three times in a row, just like First Language Lessons suggests, until they know them. Then, after a week or two (or however long) of listening to each play list and looking at the accompanying visual material, I schedule review time with each child to continue listening to the tracks that need work, updating playlists with new stuff, and leaving occasional review songs on their playlists on a completely individualized basis. This new method is saving me a TON of time, and opening up possibilities to actually get to all the things I want them to solidify – like Latin pronunciation, which is a you-know-what. Even if we only had one mp3 player in the house, I could still make individualized playlists for each student.
I keep asking myself how in the world I didn’t think of this before. I’m sure some homeschool genius out there has been doing this for ages, but I just love it when I am desperate and earnestly ask Holy Spirit for anointed ideas that will make our young ones prosper in their studies and He drops an idea like this in my heart. I am so very blessed to have THE Teacher guiding me in all my ways.
And the QUIET that reigns in the house while everyone is on their own listening to their playlists?
That’s not too bad either.