“They are the first furnishings of the mind; the bottom-most layer of the comfortable hereditary clutter of mottoes, proverbs and half-remembered tales that we use to ornament conversations throughout our lives, knowing that they are common currency.” – Iona Opie, speaking about nursery rhymes.
We’re pretty sure that you can still remember dozens of nursery rhymes you learnt all through your childhood – they are after all the first building blocks to literacy. While fun and playful, rhymes also play a huge part in the development and upbringing of a child.
Learning About Numbers
Nursery rhymes with numbers in them encourage your child to learn basic skills like counting in ascending and descending order, and sometimes even addition and subtraction. Also, you should always encourage your child to make the numbers with their fingers while reciting the rhymes so that they will be able to associate the number names with the way they look.
Learning About Patterns
Rhymes are perfect for children to help them to understand that language has patterns in text. As you sing or recite the rhyme, your child will begin to anticipate the pattern and will be able to follow the flow of the rhyme. Additionally, teaching them about patterns through the use of music will also benefit your child’s cognitive abilities as they grow older.
Learning About Language Structure
Rhyming helps children learn about word families and groups, as well as the sound of the language. Other important skills include phonological awareness – the ability to notice and work with the sounds in language. This awareness leads to reading and writing success. Rhymes also teaches children who are learning to read about the structures of both spoken and written language.
While learning to read is challenging for most children, rhymes help make the task both easier and more fun – while also teaching them important life skills, language patterns and structure. These three benefits are important reasons to make rhymes a part of your child’s early childhood.
Originally published in “Rhyme Time”, written by Michael Corbidge, in Singapore’s Child June 2011