Ugh! Nursery rhymes! Again? Do we have to? (asks a caregiver of a little one after singing Hickory Dickory Dock for the fifth time in a row). Nursery rhymes are classics and we should teach them to our children. Why? First of all, they help children hear the smaller sounds in words (phonemic awareness) when they recite or sing the rhyme. Knowing what each letter sounds like is a key pre-literacy skill needed when children are learning to read. Singing or reciting nursery rhymes (especially over and over again) helps strengthen children’s memory as well as builds up their vocabulary. They are exposed to a variety of words like “tumbling,” “curds and whey,” and “fetch,” just to name a few. They also strengthen a child’s imagination and story-telling skills which in turn creates strong readers.
Besides helping strengthen children’s tongue and mouth muscles, nursery rhymes help build listening skills which are needed for reading comprehension. They are also a fun way to introduce listening to and reading longer stories since nursery rhymes have a beginning, middle, and end.
Would you have thought learning nursery rhymes would help with math skills? It does! A number of them have to do with counting (forward/addition and backward/subtraction), size, shape, and patterning through the repetition of words.
Fine motor skill development is another benefit of teaching our small ones nursery rhymes. They use their fingers to count along with the rhyme or act out movements for gross motor or large muscle development. Need a transition distraction when kiddos don’t want to clean up their toys or get ready for bed? Sing nursery rhymes! They’ll get everyone moving!
If you need a refresher on your nursery rhyme knowledge or need a different take on nursery rhymes, click on this link to a list of nursery rhyme books you can find here at the library: