Sitting on stools inevitably prompted stories about Miss Muffet. Spinning in circles spurred songs of rosies and mulberry bushes. As bedtime neared, I’d hear verses of Wee Willy Winkie and French words I didn’t understand. Straightening shoes by the door rendered memories of yet another Old Lady who lived in a shoe. Rummaging through cabinets for a cup reminded her of Old Mother Hubbard and her dog.
The sound of the words being strung together delighted my senses and ignited my imagination. Not to mention, it planted fond memories of a woman who would forever shape my life and now the lives of my children.
Nursery rhymes are a powerful learning tool in a child’s life. Even though they are a little weird and steeped in odd British history, they are still an important part of our children’s language and development.
This summer I’ve decided to focus on nursery rhymes with my three year old. We’ll read and recite more than thirty nursery rhymes and do an accompanying activity or craft together.
As I researched the reasons nursery rhymes are so important to read to your children, I came up with six worth considering for your own child.
Why You Should Read Nursery Rhymes to Your Children
Rhythm of language
Tony Stead, senior national literacy consultant for Mondo Publishing in New York, described research showing that in 1945, the average elementary school student had a vocabulary of 10,000 words. Today, children have a vocabulary of only 2,500 words. (source)
Nursery rhymes not only expose children to the rhythm of language, they introduce an abundance of vocabulary words that may not be part of our normal everyday language.
Words like tuffet, cupboard, nimble, merry, etc. can become a part of your child’s vocabulary. As your child hears these words toppling one over the other, they will pick up on the rhythm of our language, learning how words make phrases and phrases make sentences. It’s our sentences that can tell stories and our stories are what our children will remember for years to come.
When nursery rhymes are read aloud, children hear consonants and vowels formed into words. They can hear pitch, inflection, enunciation, and pronunciation of words over and over again. They gain phonological awareness as they hear these beloved nursery rhymes repeated over and over again.
Poetry and rhyme
Poetry is sadly lost in today’s society, but poetry exposes our children to a rich language development opportunity. Nursery rhymes introduce children to various forms of rhyme, as well as onomatopoeia and alliteration.
Children thrive on repetition and nursery rhymes provide an easy opportunity to memorize and recite fun, nonsensical poetry over and over again.
Reading aloud helps children create dramatic scenes within the bounds of their imaginations. Nursery rhymes are usually nonsensical in meaning and lend themselves to great feats of the imagination.
Traditions of times past
Nursery rhymes are steeped in tradition and history. Generation after generation after generation has handed down these beloved tales for centuries. Sharing nursery rhymes with our children help us to continue the traditions of times past.
Nursery rhymes are just plain fun. Children love them. Parents love them. Why not read them and share them with your children?!
They provide rich ground for bonding and creating memories with your little ones for years to come.
My goal is for my son to have at least ten nursery rhymes memorized before we begin preschool in the fall. I think it’s doable, and I’ll be sure to share some of our adventures throughout the summer.
What about you? Do you read nursery rhymes to your children? Which nursery rhyme is your favorite?
By the way, I’ll be using a checklist of nursery rhymes throughout the summer. You can download a free copy, if you’re interested here: NURSERY RHYMES CHECKLIST.