The overwhelming evidence suggests a big, resounding YES!
But aren’t they old and outdated? Before you jump to conclusions about reading centuries-old poetry, hear me out.
I recently read an article about the importance of reading nursery rhymes to young children. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the benefits outlined in the article had given my boys an advantage.
When my kids were young, we had several versions of nursery rhymes that were in constant rotation during bedtime. My two boys were very different beginning readers, but now that they are older are both above average in reading fluency and comprehension.
The article got my curiosity flowing as a mom, and as a teacher, as to why experts agree that nursery rhymes are so good for early literacy. I found a lot of good information out there, and came to the conclusion that the practice of reading nursery rhymes is a way more important activity to do young children than I ever imagined.
Why Nursery Rhymes are a MUST:
I loved this list of all the unexpected advantages teaching these stories to your little ones gives. Especially the fact that it unites the generations. It points out that it is a great way to bond with grandparents or other new people your child might meet.
Nursery rhymes teach important pre-literacy skills such as phonemic (a single sound) awareness, increase vocabulary, and the repetition encourages memory development. Not only that, but they also increase cognitive development, math skills, and even social-emotional learning.
Nursery Rhymes Your Way
I would caution you to be aware that some collections still include rhymes with questionable topics in this day and age. There are several that come to mind, but “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” comes to mind right away. Although, I did teach this one to my kids, it brought up a lot of interesting conversations. It’s okay, though, you can be selective, there are a lot of great rhymes out there. Some collections have even updated the messages so they’re not quite as offensive.
So, just because Mother Goose may seem old and outdated, I would encourage all new moms to read them on repeat to your little ones. Start as soon as possible (even en utero) because the benefits have been shown to give your children an advantage when it’s time for them to learn to read.
If you’re like me, you like give your children as many tools in their toolbox to help them succeed, and reading and reciting these rhymes is such and easy way to do it. Since my kids are older, I like to give collections of nursery rhymes as gifts, usually in board book form, to friends and family who are expecting. It’s my way of keeping this tradition alive, and hopefully the benefits-a-flowing.