The Value of Nursery Rhymes

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Amy, an edu-carer was talking to her group of pre-schoolers about nursery rhymes and asked the group if they could all recite their favourite rhyme, which they were thrilled to do. However, the last child to perform to the group was less than enthusiastic and when asked the reason for his uncertainty he replied that he did not know any nursery rhymes.

Next Amy talked about the characteristics of rhymes and Oisin immediately jumped up and said, “I can remember a nursery rhyme” and so began his performance. All the children clapped and joined in, confirming how simple rhymes and jingles are appealing to children as well as being used to entice adults.

Why are nursery rhymes useful in the lives of young children today?

– Nursery or folk rhymes are a child’s first introduction to the rhythm of language and to literacy and they include lullabies and counting rhymes such as counting on fingers and toes. All cultures have an equivalent of the nursery rhyme and while many are considered nonsensical they are purely fun.

– Rhymes are short and repetitive rhythmic phrases, which appeal to children. This type of language is very powerful in attracting children’s attention because it arouses curiosity about rhyme, rhythm and patterns of language. Learning nursery rhymes has some advantages that listening to stories does not provide.

– Nursery rhymes help children detect syllables, rhymes, and phonemes at an early age whilst having a positive effect on their early language and literacy skills.

– Nursery rhymes contribute to children’s cognitive development by supporting the language and processes of basic number skills e.g. One Two Buckle My Shoeג€¦..Five Little Ducksג€¦Five Green and Speckled Frogs.

– Nursery Rhymes encourage the learning of new vocabulary, memory-building skills, developing a sense of humour and distinguishing fantasy from reality e.g. Hey Diddle Diddle

– Nursery rhymes contribute to children’s personal and emotional development by providing security and constancy by identifying the patterns and routines of daily life e.g. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. They also provide realism in coping with problem solving and behavioural issues e.g. Incy Wincy Spider and Humpty Dumpty.

– Nursery Rhymes present opportunities for children’s social and physical development by providing a context for actions such as clapping, skipping, dancing, marching and jumping. e.g. The Grand Old Duke of York.

All children take great delight in their ability to memorise, sing, chant and provide actions to accompany rhymes. However, a combination of the aforementioned steps will serve to increase children’s vocabulary and verbal skills, reinforce their knowledge and understanding of their world and most importantly give them the confidence to become active life long learners.

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