This post has been written by Claire Walker
One of my favourite pastimes as a child was to listen to my ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ cassette tape. I loved creating actions for the rhymes and performing for my parents. You get a great sense of achievement learning songs and rhymes by heart.
“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.”
It is not surprising that rhyme plays such an important role in the acquisition of early literacy skills. As many Early Years specialists will agree, children must develop their listening and speaking skills before they can attempt to read or write.
It is an unfortunate fact that some children never experience the joy of nursery rhymes. Often, television and hand-held devices take precedence over creative activities such as reading and singing songs.
During my time as an EYFS teacher, I met children who had very little exposure to nursery rhymes and in turn struggled to meet the Early Learning Goal for Communication and Language.
By singing songs, reciting rhymes and retelling stories, teachers and parents can develop a child’s creativity; enabling children to paint pictures in their minds.
There are many benefits to teaching children nursery rhymes:
Language Development – When children recite rhymes, they are learning new vocabulary, how to articulate words and how to speak clearly. Rhymes also expose children to words they would not ordinally hear; pail, master, dame.
Literacy skills – When familiar with nursery rhymes or rhyming stories, children learn to expect rhyming words and the sequence of the rhyme. This is a prerequisite for making predictions when they read. Oral comprehension precedes reading comprehension (Konza, 2011).
Social and Emotional Development – Learning anything by heart takes time but we all know that as we become more familiar with something, we gain confidence in our own ability. Adults should encourage children to be creative when reciting rhymes; add actions, play around with tone and pitch. This will help develop children’s imagination and their confidence in expressing themselves.
Mathematic Development – Rhymes and songs developing mathematical skills in a quick, simple way. ‘Ten green bottles’, for instance, explores many concepts such as counting on and back, adding and subtracting, capacity and size.
How do you use nursery rhymes in the classroom? Do you have any firm favourites from your childhood? Let us know in the comments below!