It is more than just tradition that makes nursery rhymes beneficial for your child’s development. Nursery rhymes promote visual and auditory literacy skills. This means that as early as 1-3 years old your children are learning sounds, rhyming, and word association long before actual reading is learned. This means that when they reach that pivotal reading stage, your child will already have many language-related abilities.
Using some of the most common nursery rhymes; Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Itsy, Bitsy Spider; and others, investigators compared three areas of verbal ability. The first study asked children to recite popular nursery rhymes from memory. The second study asked the children’s parents to comment on their kids’ nursery rhyme capabilities. The third study asked children to identify the last word of several nursery rhymes.
As any parent can tell you, kids have an uncanny ability to learn and repeat EVERYthing you say. The function of rhyming on the brain is similar to the function of learning songs in the classroom. How many of you can still recite the “ABC song” complete with the extra ending? Or, “I ate and ate and ate some more. 8 x 8 is _____”? This is the kind of learning that stays with children long into adulthood.
Nursery Rhymes and Language Development
In nursery rhymes, we see many of the fundamentals of speech. This makes them a great source for those who study the development of language. All languages have nursery rhymes and many of them are the same or similar. In the ancient world, rhymes may have been used to impart important knowledge, though they were not always intended for children. This fact stresses the importance of rhyming throughout time, but likely for a different reason.
Take a look at the Hey diddle, diddle. The cat and the fiddle. The “fiddle” and “diddle” represent basic sounds in our language. We see this again with “moon” and “spoon” later in the poem. When you combine it with a visual aid, children are learning object association. Children begin to identify the sounds of consonants and vowels and the difference between stressed and unstressed vowels.
Nursery rhymes have a cadence, a rhythm that is followed making them great for teaching the basics of math. This simple and repetitive chanting teaches timing and basic math skills… 1-2-2-1 or 1-2-3-4. Even before children know numbers they are being exposed to the concept of numbers. As children enter the classroom they will have the thought processes necessary to understand what numbers mean.
The Benefit of Nursery Rhymes in Speech Therapy
Rhythms and easy rhymes are both being used in clinical settings to help children overcome speech problems. Because many of the words are nonsensical, the pressure is taken off of children. They have an easier time practicing the sounds when it is something fun they are doing. Children further become comfortable speaking without feeling pressured, speaking becomes easy.
It is beneficial for parents to teach and read nursery rhymes to their children and to reinforce them as they get older. You can help your children develop language skills can well before they can talk. Those little brains are geared to learn as much as possible, so give them what they need and start early.