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Repetition Makes a Skill Automatic
Repetition is a key ingredient in mastering any skill. Repetition of a skill makes that skill become automatic, such as learning to tie your shoes. When you learn to tie your shoes at the ripe old age of 4 to 6 years old, someone has to teach you the steps of the shoe-tying process. You have to follow that process step by step, and therefore one shoelace may take up to two or three minutes to completely tie.
Now, fast forward to today. How long does it take to tie a shoelace now? Can you do it without looking? And the big question: what is the difference between then and now? The answer is fairly obvious: since you learned that skill you have practiced it nearly daily for years, subjecting yourself to hundreds of repetitions of the action until it became "automatic."
We learn nearly everything we know how to do in a similar fashion. Babies are born with only a few genetic reflexes and parents literally teach them how to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, make noises, and speak.
We also learn or need to learn the cognitive skills that form the foundation of reading and learning in this fashion.
Research has shown that cognitive skills are a determining factor of an individual's learning ability. Cognitive skills are mental skills that are used in the process of acquiring knowledge; according to Oxfordlearning.com the skills that "separate the good learners from the so-so learners." In essence, when cognitive skills are strong, learning is fast and easy. When cognitive skills are weak, learning becomes a struggle.
With repetition, a cognitive skill can eventually become a stored routine. The first step is to bring the skill to a conscious level as the learner deliberately thinks about the activity to be trained. As the skill is practiced or rehearsed over days and weeks, the improved skill is then forced naturally to a subconscious level where it will be permanently stored for recall and habitual (or automatic) use. The learner won’t have to think about it but will just do it.
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