You thought you'd forgotten all those nursery rhymes from your childhood, but as soon as you had your own child, they probably came flooding back. Parents have been using these little catchy tunes for hundreds of years, and for good reason. Not only will they probably put a smile on your child's face, but they will also help develop many of those skills she has to master in her early years.
Nursery rhymes help your child master the new language he is learning because they present the vocabulary in a format that will catch his attention and help him remember -- using tunes, repetition, rhythm and actions. As the words in the rhymes start to become more familiar he is likely to start joining in, experimenting with making the sounds himself. According to PBS The Whole Child, most children start saying their first words around age 1. As he experiments with putting words together, the short and simple sentences in nursery rhymes will also be a good place for him to start.
If you regularly sing nursery rhymes to your child, you will be helping her to develop her memory skills. Her little brain will be starting to store the words and tunes she loves hearing and from the age of 3 she might be able to start chanting some of them herself. Many nursery rhymes, including "One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I Caught a Fish Alive," teach your child her first counting skills with the help of a catchy tune. Rhymes such as "Baa Baa Black Sheep" also teach her basic reading skills because she has to follow the simple story and characters.
Social and Emotional
Your child will benefit from the social interaction you give him while singing nursery rhymes -- maybe you will be face-to-face or holding and bouncing him on your knee. This close contact will help him learn and develop his own social skills. As your child gets older and starts remembering the rhymes, they will become a social tool that he can share with other people-- he might sing them with grandma or with other children at a mother and toddler group. Many nursery rhymes also introduce different emotions, including "If You're Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands." Rhymes such as "Ring O' Roses" can also be enjoyed in a group.
The actions that go with most nursery rhymes are an effective way for your child to practice motor skills. She can learn to clap her hands or make her hands move like a spider. "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" is a good example of a rhyme that will teach her how to point out different parts of her body, while rhymes such as "Hokey Pokey" involve moving her entire body to the music.