How Nursery Rhymes help development

How Nursery Rhymes help development

Developing oral language through nursery rhymes

Nursery Rhymes contribute to the foundational skills young children need in their oral language development. 

Ask any kindergarten teacher about what they wish incoming Kindergartens knew, and you will hear most of them include Nursery Rhymes in their list. They are fun and engaging for young children, and provide a bonding experience when they are read together.

A sense of togetherness

There is a sense of togetherness that Nursery Rhymes provide. As a new mom, I found myself singing Nursery Rhymes when I needed a little song to get a smile out of a little one. When my child  was in preschool, he would come home singing a Nursery Rhyme and I’d chime right in. They were songs and poems that we both knew. Suddenly, we had a common connection between home and school. As a teacher, I find myself using Nursery Rhymes with my pre-k students all day long. When I need to get their attention, I sing Nursery Rhymes. When we practice rhyming words, we chant Nursery Rhymes. When we need a familiar story to retell in our reading lesson, we use familiar Nursery Rhymes. In the first week of pre-k, I’m able to sing several songs with my students who are familiar with Nursery Rhymes. Students who are unfamiliar, learn them quickly and chime in. In just a few short days, we become a team and Nursery Rhymes help develop that sense of togetherness.

Foundational skills in oral language development

We know that listening comprehension comes before reading comprehension. Long before kids can read sight words or sound out unknown words, they are listening to songs, stories, poems, and rhymes. As they are listening, they are developing their comprehension skills. As parents and caregivers read Nursery Rhymes with their children, it’s a great time to ask kids about what is happening in the story, what they think will happen next, or even act out the story they hear.

Creating mental images, based on stories they hear, can be challenging for kids but can strengthen listening comprehension. Television tends to make mental images for us. Kids can sit down for thirty minutes, be entertained with a great story, and see the visual right there on the screen. When they are singing a Nursery Rhyme, for example, there may not be a visual for them to look at. Asking kids what is happening in the rhyme, having them close their eyes and make a picture of it, or pretending to make a movie in their mind will strengthen their listening comprehension.

There might be new language and vocabulary that kids run across when they are listening to Nursery Rhymes. Talk about these words and point them out! Kids will also be introduced to alliteration (a string of words beginning with the same letter), onomatopoeia (words that represent a sound, like woof or honk), and rhyming words. As children are chanting or singing Nursery Rhymes, they learn how to articulate words, practice using pitch and volume as they read and sing, and they are pronouncing words over and over while having fun!

Dramatic play using nursery rhymes

One of my favorite ways to learn about Nursery Rhymes is through dramatic play. Rhymes, songs and stories can quickly be turned into plays, puppet shows or felt board stories. All of these reenactments help deepen listening comprehension. 

Puppet shows are terrific way for your child to retell a story or Nursery Rhyme. Using a store-bought puppet show is fine, but there are very simple ways to create your own puppet theater. Draping a blanket over a coffee table or a few chairs can provide enough space for kids to hide behind, with their puppets or stuffed animals. If they are acting out Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat and the Fiddle, and don’t have a cow to jump over the moon, use a toy horse and just change out the word. Point out that they’ve just created an adaptation of a Nursery Rhyme and that authors do that all the time! Printing characters onto cardstock and attaching them to popsicle sticks is another way to create characters quickly. It’s fast, easy, inexpensive, and the possibilities for characters and props are endless.

Kids can also just act out a rhyme. Grab a tuffet, a fake spider, and a bowl, and suddenly you have little Miss Muffet happening right in your living room. It’s a great chance to develop those higher level vocabulary skills too, since we don’t often call our “low to the ground pillows” tuffets anymore. Acting out Jack and Jill can be quick, simple, and fun too. A pile of pillows will make a great hill to tumble down. Kids will be able to internalize the new word, tumble, and it may even become part of their vocabulary.

There are many great reasons to use Nursery Rhymes in your daily routine. Aside from providing foundational skills for oral language development, these rhymes are fun and engaging for young children. It’s a time to connect with your child, provide a home-school connection, and simply have a great time learning together. There are plenty of Nursery Rhyme CD’s out there too, so the learning and fun doesn’t even need to stop when you’re in the car! One word of caution – many of these Nursery Rhymes were written during a very dark time in history, and some of the rhymes themselves can be a bit dark and scary. Steer clear of those! We don’t want kids having nightmares of someone cutting of the tails of the 3 Blind Mice with a carving knife. Stick to fun rhymes like Jack and Jill or Little Miss Muffet. And by all means, if you are acting out Jack Be Nimble with your child, and jumping over the candlestick, make sure it’s not lit! Other than that, have fun!


Tips for starting the new school year

    As a Parent, preschool and Pre-k teacher, I saw first-hand how children who started school prepared were able to thrive in the classroom, while children who started school with gaps in their development struggled. I also saw the amazing confidence of children who started school with a strong foundation of skills, and how that confidence fueled their success in the classroom. With the right information, you can ensure your child starts school with the skills necessary to succeed. When summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for a new school year. Buying notebooks and scoping out sales is the easy part. There are less tangible things you can do as well. Here are some Tips for starting the new school year.

Tips for the starting the new school year

1. Re-Establish School Routines

Use the last few weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. “Have your child practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning,” Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.

It’s also important to get your child used to leaving the house in the morning, so plan morning activities outside the house in the week or two before school.

2. Nurture Independence

Once the classroom door shuts, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his own. Get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he’s old enough to shoulder. This might include organizing his school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework.

3. Create a Launch Pad

“Parents and teachers should do whatever they can to facilitate a child being responsible,” l At home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.

4. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework

Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child’s everyday routine. Establish a time and a place for studying at home. “Even if it’s the kitchen table, it really helps if kids know that’s where they sit down and do homework, and that it happens at the same time every day,”. As much as possible, plan to make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might be reading the paper or cooking dinner, but be around to check in on your child’s progress.

5. After-School Plans

School gets out before most working parents get home, so it’s important to figure out where your children will go, or who will be at home, in the afternoons. You might find an after-school program through the school itself, a local YMCA, or a Boys and Girls Club. If possible, try to arrange your schedule so you can be there when your child gets home during those first few days of school. It may help your child adjust to the new schedule and teachers. 

6. Make a Sick-Day Game Plan

Working parents also know the trials and tribulations of getting a call from the school nurse when they can’t get away from the office. “Most of our parents, because of the economy, are working,”. Before school begins, line up a trusted babysitter or group of parents that can pinch hit for each other when children get sick. And make sure you know the school’s policy. You may have to sign forms ahead of time listing people who have your permission to pick up your child.

7. Attend Orientations to Meet and Greet

Schools typically hold orientation and information sessions before the start of each academic year. These are good opportunities for you to meet the key players: your child’s teachers, school counselors, the principle, and most importantly, front desk staff. “The secretaries know everything and are the first people children see when they arrive at school every day,” .

8. Talk to the Teachers

Of course, teachers are the reason your child is there. When you talk to your child’s teachers, ask about their approach to homework. Some teachers assign homework so kids can practice new skills while others focus on the accuracy of the assignments they turn in. Ask for the dates of tests and large assignments so you can help your child plan accordingly. For instance, if you know a big test is coming up on Friday morning, you will know to keep things simple on Thursday evening.

9. Make it a Family Affair

Together, you and your child can plan for success in school. For instance, sit down with your child to create a routine chart. Ask your child what she wants to do first when she first gets home from school: play outside or do homework? Her answers go on the chart. “The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it,”.


I hope this website provides you with helpful information and great tips for bringing out the best in your child and helping him start school prepared to succeed!