Nursery Rhymes – Linking to Developmental Outcomes

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Singing nursery rhymes and songs to children from birth can help develop many developmental areas. It enhances the child’s language and communication skills from an early age and creates a fun experience for children that can support development in many ways. It engages the child as they start to enjoy and participate in the songs. Nursery rhymes also help with children’s social skills and in getting to know their peers; for example, holding hands during row your boat, ring a roses and Hockey Cokey.From the moment they are born, children learn sounds by listening to people speaking around them and developing an ability to tune into their environment.

As children develop at different rates, using nursery rhymes will support their communication and language development at whatever stage they are at. Older children may be beginning to learn to rhyme, whereas younger children may still be at the stage of learning new words.

Mullen (2017) discusses how nursery rhymes can be incorporated into teaching practice, including storytelling. It can also be a new tool for many parents and carers to support language and communication. Not everyone is confident to sit and sing, it may be a new concept. But one thing that does work, is seeing the parents/carers that engage in nursery rhymes also show how much they are enjoying it too. Remember, nursery rhymes can also be used in a diverse way as not every child is able to communicate with language, but some will use signing, smiles, body language and sounds. They really are a great tool for communication!

So why is singing nursery rhymes and songs important to the child? Linking to development:

Nursery rhymes can boost language development

  • Nursery rhymes increase vocabulary (like the word “fetch” in Jack & Jill)
  • They help children assimilate language
  • They are a great and wonderful introduction to poetry

Nursery rhymes can build social and emotional skills & promote a sense of community

  • Nursery rhymes develop humour. The connection between movement, rhythm, words and singing can be a great group activity
  • Children can learn social skills from many of the rhymes
  • Nursery rhymes are familiar and can thus provide comfort and support to youngsters in uncomfortable situations

Learning about the world around them
Nursery rhymes help many areas of knowledge and understanding of the world

  • The wheels on the bus – transport
  • Old McDonald – animals

Builds Vocabulary

  • Nursery rhymes are important for language acquisition and help with speech development
  • They help children develop auditory skills, such as discriminating between sounds and developing the ear for the music of words

Opens the Door to creativity

  • Nursery rhymes expand children’s imagination
  • They promote creative dramatisation when children act the scenarios out

Nursery Rhymes connects us to the past

  • These classic verses preserve culture and provide something in common between multiple generations (a good way to bond with grandparents or when meeting new people!)
  • Nursery rhymes teach history and connect a child to the past

Singing Nursery Rhymes improves fine motor skills and coordination

  • Since many nursery rhymes involve movement, coordination and physicality are integrated with their readings (think “Ring a ring a Rosey” or “London Bridge”)
  • Coordinating fingerplays are helpful to fine motor skill development

Nursery Rhymes support mathematical development

  • Nursery rhymes are full of patterns, sequencing, numbers, and counting (forward and backward).
  • They also discuss size, weight and other important maths vocabularies.

Nursery rhymes are just FUN…

I would love to see you singing with the children. Tag some families and practitioners singing nursery rhymes into your tweet. Let’s make it fun and share! share! share! (Please ask for permission before you put any videos of children onto the internet).

Remember to use the #TeamEarlyChildhood #NurseryRhymes.

If children cannot be in the video, why not sing as a staff team? If you do, I will get my team to sing Old Macdonald…I promise haha!

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