This year Tonia, Chelli, and I are working our way through Dr. Christopher Perrin’s Eight Essential Principles of Classical Education. Over the last couple months we’ve discussed Festina Lente and Multum non Multa. This month we’re discussing Repetitio Mater Memoriae.
Repetitio Mater Memoriae
All right repetitio mater memoriae sounds wonderful, but what exactly does it mean and what does it have to do with classical education? It means repetition is the mother of memory.
Memory Work and Repetition Go Hand-in-Hand
If we want our children to memorize information and retain it forever, we need to repeat the information a lot. We can’t toss a fact at our children and expect them to know it at dinner time, much less a year down the road.
Kids, and adults, need to drill information before it moves from short-term to long-term storage. We must recite, write down, and work until the information becomes second nature.
It doesn’t matter if we’re trying to absorb math facts, science facts, memorize poetry, or learn Latin verb conjugations. We simply must repeat the information many, many, many times if we want our children to memorize it.
The same principle, repetitio mater memoriae, also comes into play with behavior. Have you needed to remind
your children to wash their hands or to remember to say please once or twice?
If your kids are anything like mine, you’ve needed to remind them many times a day for years before the children automatically do the behavior.
Memory Work Is Necessary
Much as we’d like to avoid the work of endlessly repeating information to our children, memory work is necessary. Kids need to learn their math facts. They need to learn how to spell and how to read. It simply takes time and repetition for reading to become second nature so kids don’t have to struggle to sound out every word as they read.
It’s the same with Latin or any other foreign language. You need to memorize vocabulary, conjugations, and declensions before you can become fluent enough in a language to read, write, speak, and understand it. Drill is the only way to get there.There's a beauty to being able to quote a beautiful poem as you're watching a sunset.Click To Tweet
Poetry provides a beauty to life even if it isn’t utilitarian. There’s a beauty to being able to quote a beautiful poem as you’re watching a sunset or pushing your children on the swings. And classical education isn’t just about giving our kids a list of skills. It’s also about introducing our children to the beauty and wonder of the world.
Applying Repetitio Mater Memoriae
There are several ways to memorize material. The simplest is to repeat the material three times everyday. Once the children know it, begin to repeat it every other day. Over the weeks and months you slowly work down from every other day to once a week, to every other week, to once a month.
So how do you keep track of everything you have, want, and need to memorize. There are almost as many ways of organizing your memory work as there are homeschools. Here’s a round up of some of my favorite ways to add memory work to your homeschool.
- Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System
- Classical Conversations Memory Box
- How We Use Memory Work in Homeschooling
- Building a Memory Work Binder
Be sure to check out Tonia’s and Chelli’s posts on Repetitio Mater Memoriae: