Essential Nursery Rhymes For Child Development
I am sure every single person reading this can remember being endlessly serenaded with nursery rhymes as a child. Then when our little ones come along, we too carry on this tradition of ‘Jack and Jill’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. But why have these lasted the test of time and is there any significance to these particular songs? Why are nursery rhymes essential for child development?
Singing songs to our little ones from birth is essential for child development for many reasons:
- It supports language and communication skills: Rhymes help children to hear and recognise different sounds, which in turn supports early literacy skills
- It strengthens a bond between you and your child: Singing time usually takes place when there are no other distractions, allowing you to only focus on each other. Your child will love listening to your voice as they find it comforting, as well as enjoying learning new songs from you.
- Early development skills are promoted: For example, did you know that the reason ‘Round and Round the Garden like a Teddy Bear’ is sung whilst you create circles on your very young baby’s hand to teach them that their hand is a part of them?
- Singing helps children to learn how to use their voice in a variety of ways: Not only can you make it more interesting by trying to whisper or change the speed that you sing songs, you can also ‘recycle’ songs by asking children which voice could they use to sing the rhymes (e.g. sing Pat-A-Cake using The Gruffalo’s voice, Jack and Jill in Frozen’s Elsa’s voice or Hey Diddle Diddle using the voice of a robot). I also change names in songs (e.g. instead of ‘Polly Put The Kettle On’ I’ll sing: ‘Beatrice put the kettle on…Francis take it off again’). Try it! Your children will love it.
- They take the perfect length of time to sing with your babies: Young children are only able to focus for a short amount of time so these nursery rhymes are perfect for tiny concentration spans.
- It helps to support the understanding of number: ‘1, 2 Buckle my Shoe’, ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive’, ‘2 Little Dickie Birds’ but to name a few, all use number as part of the rhyme.
- It builds vocabulary. Singing different nursery rhymes helps to expose children to new words, helping them to learn new vocabulary. This in turn supports their writing skills.
- Prepositional language is introduced: Songs such as ‘Humpty Dumpty’, ‘London Bridge’ and ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ all contain lots of prepositional language (up, down, in, out). You can emphasise these words even more by acting them out with your child at the same time.
- Creativity and a sense of community is promoted: Nursery rhymes can be sung anywhere at any time! In the bath, on a long car journey or just before bedtime. As well as this, there is no limit to how many people can join in. This shows children that everyone can be included, demonstrating an inclusive, fantastic team work between you all.
- They can support routine: We all know that routine is so important for children and nursery rhymes are fantastic for this. You can use them to help signal different times of the day. I always sing lullabies to help our babies recognise that it is time to settle down, ready to sleep (you can read the rest of our Bedtime Routine For Baby Twins here).
Do You Know These Nursery Rhymes?
Try and work your way through this list of nursery rhymes:
Jack and Jill
Ring o Ring o’ Roses
The Muffin Man
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Incy Wincy Spider
It’s Raining It’s Pouring
Polly Put The Kettle On
Mary Had A Little Lamb
Five Little Monkeys
Row Row Row Your Boat
I also found alternative version of the extremely popular Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by Mildred J. Hill (this is perfect if you, like me, have exhausted this song and would love to sing some different lyrics):
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How we wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the glorious sun has set,
And the grass with dew is wet,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
When the golden sun doth rise,
Fills with shining light the skies,
Then you fade away from sight,
Shine no more ’till comes the night.
How many of these do you regularly sing with your little ones? Do you have any other songs that we haven’t listed? Which rhymes are your favourite?