Language Arts Canadian Lead Primary School

Muscle Memory

“The ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, acquired as a result of frequent repetition of that movement.” (emphasis added)


They say that practice makes perfect, but actually, practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Every time a child sits at a desk, picks up a pencil, and puts words down onto a page, they are building automaticity through frequent repetition.

This can go right, or this can go wrong.

Grip, posture, letter formation, spelling, punctuation and syntax are a combination of motor, linguistic and visual sequences which get set in concrete very, very fast. From the day a child picks up a writing tool, that brain is solidifying repetition after repetition until automaticity is achieved. You can be automatic in your error patterns too. Think about the frequent keyboarding errors you have developed (I myself am involved in literacy and *langauge).

My point is, make that grip, posture, formation and recall the highest quality you can make it, because three years on, after countless repetitions, whatever sequence of movements and strategies were practiced is pretty much a permanent sequence.

If you are trying to change the way a child holds a pen, forms letters and approaches written language, the older they get, the more you have to get their commitment to changing. It can be done, but why not advocate strongly for excellent, corrective, vigilant instruction in the first place?

Muscle memory

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Lyn Stone

What have you practised that’s been made permanent (good or bad!)?