Why Nursery Rhymes are so important!!

Date: 18th Jan 2017 @ 9:03pm

Recent research into the development of early literacy skills has conclusively shown that rhythm and rhyme play a hugely important role. This is because children’s early literacy skills are about listening and speaking rather than reading and writing. These first two skills are the bedrock foundation for the latter, and create much stronger ability in the latter if ingrained deeply and early on. It’s simply not possible to be a good writer if you don’t first of all have a good vocabulary. Similarly, it’s very hard to learn phonics and sight words if you can’t discriminate sounds and rhyming patterns in an audible way. Which is why in Nursery we place a huge emphasis on Phase 1 phonics. 

What’s so great about rhyme? By singing and re-telling familiar rhymes and rhyming stories we teach or children: – auditory discrimination – listening skills – a rich range of language – concentration skills – oral storytelling / poetry skills  and phonemic awareness. 

More specifically they learn:

* to be able to listen for and keep a steady beat

* to learn whole songs and chants off by heart from a very young age

* to be able to retell and sing these independently from a very young age

* to retell stories/ chants without using a book- good oral storytellers become great story writers

* to be able to complete a rhyming sentence or couplet by predicting the word that is missing

* to be able to discriminate rhyming words and identify those that don’t rhyme

* to make their own strings of rhymes during word play eg cat/ fat/ mat/ sat/ hat/ bat/ that

* to invent and experiment with making their own “silly” words that rhyme eg clat/ smat/ thrat/ grat/ vlat

They also develop good maths skills at the same time, which makes perfect sense and is very interesting

Research states that when comparing the literary abilities of school age children, those who had a good understanding of rhyme from an early age, vastly outperformed those who had little exposure to it before they started school. So clearly we want to focus on rhythmic activities as much as we can in the early years and first couple of years at school. 

How can we instil a love for rhymes?

* Sing and tell rhymes/chants and songs as part of every day life during normal routines e.g. while getting dressed, eating breakfast, walking to the park, having a bath. The very popular “here we go round the Mulberry Bush” can be applied to everything going on at home and is often sung here! “this is the way we wash our hands….pick up our clothes….eat our food” etc 

* read nursery rhymes and poems, including many that are unfamiliar to you

* Learn silly rhymes linked to the riginal nursery rhymes 

* read a huge range of books from the library which have rhyming text, encouraging your child to retell these by memory or to finish off the rhyming words before you read them. The importance of rhyming text books cannot be underestimated! Julia Donaldson, Dr Suess, Nick Sharrat, This is the Bear series etc, are all excellent places to start. I think this is one of the most important things that we are not always aware of, and by adding more rhyming texts to our everyday reading, it can make the biggest impact! 

But most importantly, enjoy the special time spent reading lovely stories and singing with your children

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