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Why Nursery Rhymes

Posted on 29 November 2012

Young mothers who sit home with their new infants often wonder what they will do to stimulate their child. From day one it is important that infants are spoken to. This will help the child learn language and the sound of the mother and father’s voice for child education.

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Nursery rhymes or Mother Goose rhymes are a wonderful way to interact with your infant and also a fun way for them to begin learning language skills.

Mother Goose rhymes can be said or sung. They should be repeated everyday so your child will learn to recognize the rhymes and/or the melodies. Over time, even very young children will remember the rhymes and get used to the repertoire they know.

Mother Goose rhymes can also be exaggerated in certain spots to add humor or anticipation to the rhyme. Songs or action rhymes can be incorporated to create some play acting. This can act as a tactile element to the learning process.

If you are unfamiliar with Mother Goose or Nursery Rhymes, a good place to begin is with a book. Try Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose which is attractively illustrated and contains over 200 rhymes both known and not-so-known. You can sit your child on your lap and read some of the rhymes as your little one looks at the pictures.

Another way to become familiar with Mother Goose rhymes is to enroll your child in a program at the local public library. Many libraries have a “Mother Goose Time” designed for children ages 1 – 2 and their caregivers. Different libraries will call it something different such as “lap sit,” but the concept is the same. In addition, some libraries offer the program for babies younger than 1. Check your local branch.

If you are a new mother or a grandmother with care of a grandchild, you may want to think about getting a library card, if you don’t already have one. Besides programs, the library also has CDs you can borrow that have songs for children. Nursery rhymes set to music are a good way to go.

As a school librarian at an elementary school, I am often surprised how many Kindergarten students begin school not knowing any Mother Goose rhymes. To compensate, I often begin Kindergarten library class with Mother Goose. They love the rhymes and memorize them quickly. One of the first things students are taught to recognize by their classroom teachers is a rhyming text. Rhyming also has a calming influence on young children.

Another huge benefit of teaching nursery rhymes with young children is that it teaches them the rhythm of the language they will use later on when they start reading. For Kindergarten students, later will translate into the current school year. In many schools,Kindergarten is the time when students begin reading “sight words” and reading simple sentences.

By teaching young children nursery rhymes, they learn where to naturally put stresses in words and sentences. Researchers have linked children’s experience with nursery rhymes to the development of sensitivity to the sounds within words, an ability they call “phonemic awareness.” This is a necessary foundation for understanding relationships between letters and sounds and contributes to their emergent literacy development.

So show your child how to have fun with Mother Goose by using rhymes, books and songs. Sing them, say them, play them, and use them. You will be setting your child up to be a good reader and having fun at the same time!

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