Why nursery rhymes are so important to a child's learning development

little miss muffet

There is so much more to Nursery Rhymes than meets the eye!

Sure, it's great fun to dissolve into giggles when you tickle your child's foot at the end of 'This Little Piggy went to Market' but there's also immensely valuable learning experiences that occur.

Building Oral Language

When a child hears and learns nursery rhymes, they are being exposed to new words (muffets and tuffets!) which will help them to become great little communicators as they expand their vocabulary.

Through vocabulary extension, they are strengthening their understanding of vowels & consonants and their connection in forming words. This in turn skips hand in hand with developing listening skills, as they concentrate on adding new words to their repertoires.

Rhymes enable children to practice effective speaking as they lend themselves nicely to developing pitch, volume, inflection and rhythm.

So singing and sharing these rhymes is a great way to help your child to learn to speak!

Brain Power

Nursery rhymes help children learn to recognise patterns (and/or rhyming couplets) which they can more easily commit to memory and recall the next time they say the rhyme.

Nursery rhymes also tell a concise story that can be followed very simply by the child. They usually have a beginning, middle and end. These sequencing of events helps a child to understand how stories are told. By understanding the sequence, it helps with direct recall of the rhyme.

This translates across to reading. Armed with the knowledge of how rhymes are told, the child is more readily able to comprehend story through the written word and of course it will hold them in good stead when they start writing stories of their own.

Other benefits of rhymes include learning simple mathmatics concepts "three bags full, one for the master" etc and exposure to one of my favourite parts of language, alliteration. Think "goosie goosie gander" or of Rudyard Kipling's "great gray green greasy Limpopo river".

Draw the rhyme

A fantastic way to broaden the experience of a nursery rhyme is to encourage your child to draw the story of the rhyme on paper and then discussing it with them.

Drawing characters and events from the rhyme can consolidate the many lessons that can be taken from rhymes. For example, by drawing the clock for 'Hickory Dickory Clock' concepts regarding time can be explored or ' Five Little Ducks' is a great way to explore counting to 5.

Formal research has shown time and time again that children do most of their learning in the first 8 years of their life so it is absolutely vital that children are exposed rhymes & stories of learning consistently through their early years.

Movement & Rhyme

Many nursery rhymes feature action movements and so are an effective way for the child to practice their motor skills. Using one's hands to make twinkling diamonds in the sky or to use our bodies to dramatise Incy Wincy spider climbing up the water spout are not only fun but help the child to engage their imaginations and explore movement creatively.

Sharing nursery rhymes, songs, limericks, poems and stories as part of a daily routine is one of the most important things parents and educators can do for children. Nothing is more important for your child than setting them up to become life long learners and confident communicators and rhymes provide a great avenue to become just that!

Here's a great list of nursery rhymes to try out.