Benefits of nursery rhymes for preschoolers

‘Humpty-Dumpty’ and ‘Ding, dong bell’, have entranced generations of preschoolers. Here’s how rhymes benefit the little ones.

By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj

Benefits of nursery rhymes for preschoolers

Who doesn’t love nursery rhymes? But, do we ever realise their benefits? In her book, ‘Reading Magic’, Fox M states that, “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.” Not just reading skills, nursery rhymes offer a host of benefits for pre-schoolers. Here are the key benefits.

  1. Language development: Rhymes offer a lot of scope to hone the preschooler’s pronunciation skills. From phonic practice (vowels, consonants and diphthongs) to learning to speak with correct pitch, rhythm and intonation, rhymes and jingles benefit children a lot. Apart from this, it also helps build their vocabulary. By repetition and recitation children learn the syntax of language as well. All this learning happens the fun way! It is an unconscious learning.
  2. Cognitive development: Rhymes may appear to be simple. But, they aid in the cognitive development of preschoolers. The basic skill they pick up is memory and recall. For ages, this has been the method of learning rhymes. It serves as the first step in building children’s memory power. Most nursery rhymes are narrative in nature. They involve sequencing and coherence. Children learn to comprehend the gist of the rhyme when they repeatedly listen to it. Thus, their comprehension skills too are developed. Many rhymes (One, two, buckle my shoe) involve numbers and counting. Thus, mathematical skills are also developed.
  3. Physical development: Depicting actions for the rhymes, jumping and hopping while singing the rhymes ensures preschoolers attain their movement milestones and develops their motor skills. It also strengthens their muscles, joints and bones, and provides tiny tots with enough physical exercise.
  4. Social and emotional development: The interaction with family members, teachers and other children while reciting the rhymes grooms preschoolers socially and emotionally. They learn to emote as they sing along and recite. They learn to associate words with emotions. Also, social skills are developed while acting out nursery rhymes and when standing in a circle to recite them.

Other benefits include inculcating in preschoolers a love of books and reading, and enhancing their creativity and imagination.

With so many benefits, parents should begin by singing nursery rhymes as lullabies to their little ones and go on to engage in fantasy play with them. Rhymes can also be sung on long drives, walks and hikes.

So, welcome to the world of ‘Goosey goosey gander’ and ‘Little Miss Muffet’…!