How many nursery rhymes do you remember from your own childhood?
Traditional songs are indeed a crucial part of a child’s heritage. Nursery rhymes are toys for the mind; indestructible, enduring cultural icons shared with adults and peers, siblings and cousins. They provide the early structure of literacy and have simple melodic tunes, many pentatonic (containing a five note scale common to the folk music of diverse cultures with often easy to sing intervals). The expressiveness of any language is encapsulated in its nursery rhymes. They are significant too as cultural fragments that bind societies through shared meanings.
They also contain story-lines that help bind together vocabulary and prosidy (the vocal patterns in a language), fulfulling the growing need for narrative structure as children develp awareness of people, time, event and place and the way they interconnect. Fortunately, there is an extensive oral and written tradition of songs for every stage of early childhood; songs that feed the child’s ever-growing understanding of their world and their language(s).
Many illustrated collections exist and several volumes should be acquired including sturdy books to be made available directly to the children. That is not to say that every traditional song is worth reiterating. Many that have lost their relevance due to changing views about race, gender, social rank and the soundness of the use of verbal abuse, violence and corporal punishment in managing children’s behaviour should be rejected.
Include and make available a wide selection of well-known nursery rhymes and also some stimulating rhymes that are less well-aired.
To sum it up:
1. Nursery rhymes are rich parcels of language that teach the child prosody. What’s prosody? It’s the vocal patterns in language, the way language flows easily and rhythmically, as in “Good morning Mrs Hen”, and are one of the five components of phonological awareness.
2. Nursery rhymes enrich vocabulary with many rare and rewarding words presented to the child’s ears for the first time, as in this kind of of red. “Four of them are speckled red.”
3. Nursery rhymes tell stories. They fulfil the children’s growing need for narrative structure as they develop awareness of people, time, event and place – the who, when, what & where? of good storytelling.
We have early kids music activities that are based on the use of nursery rhymes to stimualte and encourage speech and language. Visit http://www.musicalchild.com.au and have a look at the Songs by Title which is steadily growing and will have over 350 nursery rhyme titles and activities to match.
♪♫♪ Sung to you by Musical Child ♪♫♪