Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Child Creates His own Work - Montessori Repetition

Montessori education has taught me to stop and observe the child. It's amazing when we step back and see how often the child is actually creating his own work, in contrast to looking at the child with the world's eyes which tells us the child is just annoying us and getting into trouble, and touching things he is not supposed to touch.

I was cleaning out my fabric scraps when 3yo picked up a cloth strip - he carried it around like it was his most cherished treasure. Then he started to roll and unroll, roll and unroll. That pattern of repetition is what tells us that the child is creating his own work. He is meeting a basic innate need to teach himself.

I love what Baan Dek says about 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. 
Ifra N. Khoso, of Montessori, a Candid Approach  states the following on repetition:
Coming to one's own conclusions, making and self correcting one's own mistakes and learning through one's own repetition is far more fruitful and long lasting. It is this experience that makes learning fun and lively. This important freedom to repeat and explore instills lifelong love and thrust for learning and exploration in a child which is utmost necessary to progress in practical life.
This post Repeat... and Repeat Again is worth taking your time to read it all.
Here Cathy says, "Allow it to happen!":
It is so easy to overlook these precious moments, to storm in and interrupt. Though I'm sure I have unknowingly interrupted Finlay's moments of repetition from time to time, I try to make it a rule that before approaching him I always stand back for a moment to watch and see if he is busy with something. This can be really hard! We are so used to living our lives on our own timetables that it is difficult to slow down and allow these moments to reach their own conclusions.
So whether your learning environment is unplanned or prepared it is important to observe your child - to see, if in fact, he is creating his own work. The ideal is the prepared environment and Montessori Print Shop explains it well in her article Allow Time for Repetition.
When the prepared environment and materials provide feedback so that the children learn from their errors (and not from the adult), they become internally driven to repeat the exercises until they master them. 
If you need more information To the Lesson just posted on What is the Prepared Environment.

The Fabric Strip this child was working with is simply a piece of lightweight cotton fabric cut 21 inches by 4 inches. Fold in half lengthwise with right sides together. Sew a 5/8 inch seam on the long side of the fabric. Trim seam with a pinking shears. Turn the fabric so right sides are out. Press the fold. Turn under the short ends about 1/4 inch, press and sew ends shut.

Fabric Strips

I guess this is my upcycling project for the week. These were originally fabric covers for elastic pony tail holders that I used to sell at craft fairs. They were cut and sewn several years ago before my days of a rotary cutter, so they are a bit askew and not quite straight on but at least you get the idea....I suppose if you made them just a bit wider you could slip the finished roll into a napkin ring -- but 3yo seemed to be perfectly happy with the material as is.

Practical Life - ROLLING:
These small Fabric Strips exercise pincer grasp which aids preparation for handwriting.
In addition, the child can learn to roll napkins, table top work mats and later a rug.

Rolling a Bamboo Mat and a Napkin
Rolling & Unrolling a Mat

Practical Life - TYING KNOTS:
We also discovered that these Fabric Strips also work great with little hands for learning to tie knots. Another child, 2yo calls this activity "Making an X." It is much easier for 2yo and 3yo to make a knot with this material vs. a shoe string or yarn.

  • Place the Fabric Strip under the broom stick handle
  • Make an X 
  • Put strip in right hand behind and under left to make a simple knot.

Making an "X" 
(on a broomstick handle)

The Knot

The younger ones also love using a short piece of clothesline and tying knots on the doorknob or the leg of a desk. More knot tying practice HERE and HERE. More knot tying activities HERE.


  1. I'm always excited when I see one of my children repeating a task - it means they are working on skills and mastery! Great blog :)

  2. As a special education teacher repetition is what I do,, a lot. My daughter who has Autisum will repeat work for hours. This is her way to learn. Since Dr Montessori worked with special needs children it is just right for her. I had to learn when she was younger to leave her be. She would be sorting the colored beads and only one color at a time and could be almost done and find a bead she missed and dump all the beads back in the basket and start again. I found you years ago and love the paper work because she has Pica and I do not have to worry about her swallowing them and we also love the tackle boxes because we can take a group of work to Drs and therapies. I bought a number of individual wall charts they allow her to work in the car or anywhere.It also helps to keep things in order because she also has CP and is left handed. One of these days I am going to join your group. I love you blog .

  3. I found you many years ago when my daughter was younger. She has Autisum, CP and Pica as well as other disabilities.Paper works have been wonderful as PICA children eat non food items. The tackle boxes are portable and with multiple Dr and therapies individual wall charts help keep the work in place for her as she also is left handed.
    Repition is important with special needs children and Dr Montessori recognized that and the independence is also. She may do a work for hours. She loves to roll grossgrain ribbon. She has a basket of different widths and lengths. I found that if I leave work in her room so she can work if she doesn't sleep. I hope to join hope for all one of these days. I love that you have added your blog.


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