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The benefits of nursery rhymes to children – National Nursery Rhyme Week 2017

Posted by Bibetta on

“Hickory Dickory Dock…”


As a parent, you probably find yourself singing daft songs on loop at any point of the day.

It’s just one part of the job description that can’t be avoided, but from time to time, you might find yourself questioning if there’s any real sense to those age old nursery rhymes.

You might also wonder whether they really take any of it in.

As part of National Nursery Rhyme Week, we thought we’d look into why these little ditties are so popular generation after generation, and what benefits they can really bring.

The benefits of nursery rhymes

Apart from the fact that you might placate your child for a few minutes, there are a number of advantages that you and your child can gain from nursery rhymes.

Music has magical powers. OK, perhaps not quite magical, but music has been proven to help us connect with others and ourselves. The innate qualities of music have been used as part of therapy for years to support people of all ages and abilities and at all stages of life. For the younger ones specifically, singing along to nursery rhymes can help to calm down and engage a fractious child, or diffuse a tricky situation. They can also help with the learning of their communication and social skills.

Mindful parenting. We all have so many distractions in our lives as parents, however we’re choosing to do it. When a parent sings to a child, they are fully spending that time together. There are no interruptions from work, home or technology, and both attentions are engaged in enjoying that moment together. Sharing one-to-one time together like this helps the parent and child relationship to further bond, and to create happy memories to look back on in later years.

Singing from the same sheet, literally. Research by Cambridge University has found that children whose mothers talk to them in ‘motherese’ (the ‘sing-songy’ way that we often find ourselves talking to children) are more in tune with each other. The research indicates that in order for the brain connections to be fully formed to help them learn effectively, babies need to feel safe, secure and loved. The motherese style of communication is said to do that.

Passing on knowledge and history. Nursery rhymes such as ‘Ring a Ring o' Roses’ – said to be about the Great Fire of London and Black Death - actually open up opportunities for children and parents to engage in discussions about the past. These origins are often disputed as different nationalities have their own versions, but both you and your child might just learn a bit of history when the questions arise!

Development of literacy and numeracy skills. Lots of nursery rhymes can help to give a head start in the development of your little one’s early years. Songs such as ‘5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed’ or the alphabet song can help children to develop emergent literacy skills and early mathematics. How about singing ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive!’ when feeding your little one wearing their Blue Fish UltraBib?

So although often seemingly nonsensical, nursery rhymes can actually bring positive benefits to both you and your child. Who’d have thought?

Take time this week together and sing away – for more information see http://www.musicbugs.co.uk/world-nursery-rhyme-week/