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Age 3 through 8th grade

Nursery rhymes are not passé!

  • CWIL
  • Lower School
  • Parenting
  • Teaching and Learning
Mrs. Illene Courtright

A 2009 survey by Booktrust revealed that 25% of parents had never sung a nursery rhyme to their child, 20% of young parents (under 24) believed that nursery rhymes were not educational, and 33% of young parents said they did not sing nursery rhymes because they were too old-fashioned. Only 12% of parents could recall three or more nursery rhymes in full. These statistics are a reminder that we must continue to share and promote the value of nursery rhymes because they play a crucial and powerful role in children’s development.

Why are nursery rhymes important for young children?

  1. Nursery rhymes provide an amazing source for language and speech learning. They introduce young children to fundamental properties of communication such as rhyme and prosody, attending skills, auditory comprehension, pragmatic/social interaction, and vocabulary skills.
  2. The rhymes with nonsense words are learned for fun and invite word-play as children repeat them over and over. They give children the feeling that speech is easy and support regulation of respiration, vocalizing, and articulation, which helps them master speech and language in a smooth, easygoing way.

What do nursery rhymes teach us about cerebral activity?

  1. Nursery rhymes not only evoke good feelings - they arouse attention and concentration through the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the hippocampus and the frontal cortex in a positive way, and stimulate memory.
  2. While reciting a nursery rhyme, rhythm and language work together, creating an interaction in brain activity. Words and the phonological processing ignite activity of the left hemisphere, while rhythm and pitch are generally processed by the right hemispheric regions.
  3. The left and right hemispheres collaborate to produce easy, flowing speech and language.  The subtle variations in tone, timing, pitch, and accent are learned from collaboration of the two hemispheres.

What are additional benefits of frequent use of rhymes?

  1. Increased vocabulary: Rhymes can introduce children to the meanings of words and can also support the development of memory skills.
  2. Sequencing skills: Repeating nursery rhymes to children on a regular basis allows them to anticipate and predict what is coming next and build a sense of chronology.
  3. Support for routines and transitions: Familiar rhymes can be comforting. Rhymes can be applied to activities such as bedtime, saying goodbye, and putting toys away.

Now that you realize the importance of saying nursery rhymes with your children, here are some resources for you - in case you don’t remember all the words:

Illene Courtright, Independence's Language Specialist, has worked at our school since 2014. She is a team member of the Center for Wellness, Innovation and Learning (CWIL™).

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