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Enjoying Imitation

In my previous article. I discussed imitation, repetition, and memorization.

  • Imitation is important for learning purposeful movement and other skills. Imitation is the first step to learning. Read the article by Simmi Vasu here.
  • Repetition is another important step in learning. While we don’t pay much attention to the role of repetition, Ananth’s Bharatanatyam experience made me tune into the importance of repetition as an important tool for learning.
  • Memorization is yet another tool for learning that does not receive enough attention in these days. The focus is on innovation and creativity. However, we cannot be very creative if have not mastered the basics! Fluency is needed for creativity.

Imitate, Repeat, Memorize!

Sounds boring?

Thanks to the Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) approach developed by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, imitation, repetition, and memorization can be fun!

  1. Check out this video by Lavanya Iyer. Thank you, Manju Iyer for encouraging Lavanya to do this project.

Does she seemed bored? Does imitation, repetition, and memorization have to be boring?

Here is the video by Ujwal Jagadeesh, a TAHD (Theater Arts for Holistic Development) practitioner and Bharatanatyam teacher. How well is Lavanya imitating the teacher? What do you think she is learning?

2. How about Ananth? Does he seem engaged in learning by imitation?

Ananth has practiced imitation, repetition, and memorization through Bharatanatyam for more than 10 years. Now, he is ready for applying this approach to storytelling, drama, and other endeavors!

Creative representation by Morpheus Nag

Thank you Morpheus Nag for this beautiful picture. It looks like it was created just for this blog post!

To learn more about TAHD, view Margadarshi – The Story of Ambika Kameshwar to understand the story of Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD).

Author – Dasaratha Rama

BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi

Imitate —> Repeat —> Memorise

Acquiring knowledge is a form of imitation. ― J. Krishnamurti

We all learn about our surroundings or our world by observing others acts and reactions. Imitation is about learning behaviours and social cues, like how to react to a greeting by a fellow child. 

How can we guide our kids to Imitate :

  • Playtime : stacking blocks / play-dough / role play with dolls / clapping games
  • Daily Life and Activities : everyday chores / cooking / cleaning / exercising
  • Dance : Start with copying small or basic moves which help in their gross and fine motor movements. Gradually, we can move to facial expressions and combining movement with expressions. Adding singing to it is another advantage. All these activities are incremental.
  • Art and Craft

Imitation enhances attention which brings connection. And all this gets better and better through repetition. Through Repetition, we rehearse over time and gradually it becomes easier, and the child gets confident. 

Most learnings rely on repetitions, even behaviours of our kids are hard to break as through repetition and repetition they become natural to them and immediately come to their rescue. But with Repetition, we can create memories and handle behaviours too.

With Repetition, we transfer our learnings to our subconscious, and free our working-memory for more learnings. We can say now that we have successfully memorised that learning. It’s easy to retrieve then. 

Hope, Imitate —> Repeat —> Memorise makes sense now. 

I would you all to read a small story based on Saint Kabir Doha(couplet) to transfer it to your subconscious too.

I would like to enormously thank Morpheus Nag (15yo from Chandigarh) for the above illustration for the writeup. I couldn’t have thought anything better.

CreativeSaathi parentsaathi

Imitate, Repeat, Memorize

A Journey to Bharat through Natya – 1

View the video below. It is in Tamil but anyone can watch the movement! It is the Tamil version of If you are happy and you know it… It is created by RASA. How do children learn these movements? While the video shows the end-product and the learning process, I see three key components in learning movement and dance:

  • Imitation is important for learning purposeful movement. Imitation is the first step to learning. Read the article by Simmi Vasu here.
  • Repetition is another important step in learning. While we don’t pay much attention to the role of repetition, Ananth’s Bharatanatyam experience made me tune into the importance of repetition as an important tool for learning.
  • Memorization is yet another tool for learning that does not receive enough attention in these days. The focus is on innovation and creativity. However, we cannot be very creative if have not mastered the basics! Fluency is needed for creativity.

As a professor for over 30 years, I have seldom had conversations on imitation, repetition, or memorization! In today’s classroom. A lot must be learned quickly. Imitation, repetition, and memorization are slow processes. A journey to Bharat through natya is not just Ananth’s journey. It is my journey too. I have reconnected with many processes that may not be in fashion today but seem as important for learning today as when we were growing up.

Join us for a conversation on the role of imitation, repetition, and memorization in the Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) approach in our 100-Day Theater Lab on Facebook here.

While I didn’t the imitate, repeat, and memorize process in action for the above video, I got a chance to observe it closely during RASA Day 2022 practice.

Simmi Vasu identifies the following types of imitation:
Gross motor
Fine motor
Doing actions with objects

Which of these types of imitation is needed for doing the activities in the two videos shared today?


Thanks to Dr. Ambika Kameshwar and Dr. Vaishnavi Poorna for sharing resources for this blog post. I was mentioning how I played If you are happy and you know it with our one year old grandson. I also mentioned that I see If you are happy and you know it as TAHD. They said that they had created a video to make this point and the idea for this blog post took shape!

Creative artwork by Vinayak Raj

The artwork for this blogpost is done by a talented little CreativeSaathi associate Vinayak Raj of 12 years from Greater Noida.

Author– Dr.Dasaratha Rama

parentsaathi Resources

Imitation The First Step Towards Learning

In my profession as a special educator, I always meet parents, anxiety written on their face and thousands of questions racing through their minds. I am a parent too, being the mother of an autistic child, I suddenly rewind back to those days, when I was on the opposite side.

Usually, the conversation would be like my two plus child knows 1-10, A-Z, knows some colours and shapes and yes, some fruits, vegetables and vehicles too. I would see a cute bundle of joy reciting all that the parents asks him/her to do with lots of coaxing. I then call the child’s name and simply tap the table at times or clap, only to find the child lost in his or her own world and not even aware of the actions I have done. No fault of the parent too, for our education system expects a child barely in his 3rd year of life rattle all this and at times write too in a play school.

So where do we start, what are the important prerequisites for learning? Have you seen moms looking at the face of an infant and making cooing sounds, lips all puckered up, or smiling and making different noises? In return the child also looks intently at the mother and trying to gurgle, coo and chuckle the way his mom tried. The child here is simply trying to imitate or respond to the actions of his mother. In other words, the child is simply trying to imitate. Imitation skills are one of the most important developmental milestones. It clearly shows that the child is environmentally present, he is aware of his surroundings and is responding to the stimulations he receives from them.

Imitation is the one of the first form of learning, and we all have learnt through imitation, be it our dressing style, our language so why should it be any different for our kids with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)? That is where we start from too. ABCD, numbers etc. are rote learned things. Rote memory is the strength of an ASD child.
Imitation does not come naturally to a child with ASD, it has to be taught as a skill. Imitation again has to be taught in steps. The natural protocol for development of any person is from gross motor muscles to fine(A child learns to sit or stand before he develops a pencil grip) So we teach our children imitation skills also accordingly. The child picks up gross motor imitation first like tapping a table, waving, or stomping feet. He will then move on to fine motor imitation e.g. thumbs up, touching index finger to thumb or middle finger to the thumb etc and then he learns oral motor imitation. This imitation skill is required to look at the speech therapist face and reproduce the sound or word with appropriate tongue movements, to copy the dance steps or action poems in school and later copying from the board. Imitation is one of the primary stages of cognitive development. It shows that the child is aware of his surrounding and is there with the parent/caregiver.

So, to teach imitation skills, sit across the table in front of your child, clearly say “do this” and do an action like tapping the table, clap, or waving bye, touching head etc. Remember not to give verbal clue like by saying “tap table” or “clap” for when you give such verbal clues you are actually doing a one-step instruction, not imitation. By saying “do this” you are encouraging the child to observe you and copy. If he is not able to do it gently guide him by giving him physical prompts, i.e. holding his hands and doing it. At times having another family member to first model the actions, helps the child to understand the concept much better. Reinforce the child with tangible and intangible rewards for every attempt to make learning faster and fun.

The same technique can be used for fine motor imitation like tapping index finger and thumb, and subsequently tapping the thumb and each finger one by one or holding the thumbs up, wiggle fingers, point to body parts etc.( again taking care not to name the body parts).

Oral motor imitation includes various tongue movements, and producing various vowels or consonant sounds etc.

Imitation of actions with objects e.g. imitating a building blocks designs you have made, for example if you have put a yellow and red blocks one over the other. The child should be able to make the same sequence when given the same set of coloured blocks. Another example, use a kitchen set and place a tea cup on a saucer or place the saucer on the tea cup giving a similar set to the child and give the prompt “do this”. You can do a variety of such actions with these play utensils. I am yet to see a child who doesn’t enjoy playing with the kitchen set I give. They invariably try to put the spoon in my cup or the saucer on my cup and I gently guide them. One can also use bubbles, it makes learning all the more fun and the squeals of laughter you get is priceless. Initially prompt the child if he is not able to do it and slowly fade the prompts
When your child imitates you, you have his full attention; he is present with you not lost in his own world. Remember if the imitates well, all other the skills would also fall into place automatically like a jigsaw.

So….. “do this”……

With Simmi Vasu