Nursery Rhymes

Keeping the Tradition of Nursery Rhymes Alive

As you sing nursery rhymes to your infant or teach a familiar rhyme to a toddler, you're following the tradition of past centuries, dating as far back as the Middle Ages. While the origins may have become murky over the years, PBS Parents stresses the importance of this ritual for a common activity that spans multiple generations among families.

The Surprising Origin of Nursery Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes like Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty have been popular for centuries but have you ever paid attention to their true origin when teaching them to young children. L.K. Alchin from Nursery Rhymes, Lyrics, and Origins discusses some of the violent and controversial origins. For example, Jack and Jill has French origins, and the two characters are thought to be the beheaded King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The first version of the nursery rhyme was written in 1795, shortly after the beheadings, and the nursery rhyme became more child-friendly over the years.

Other nursery rhymes have controversial connotations such as Humpty Dumpty insinuating someone was obese, or Ring Around the Rosie, which was originally about the bubonic plaque. However, PBS Parents cautions that parents shouldn't share these origins with young children and just let them enjoy the silly rhymes.

Teaching Children Nursery Rhymes

As children want to learn to talk just like their parents and teachers, nursery rhymes allow them to say several words at once and it's fun. You can start by introducing one or two rhymes a week, beginning with a traditional one like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Begin by saying the nursery rhyme so your child learns the words and the rhyme pattern, and then you can sing them and add fun hand motions.

Benefits of Nursery Rhymes

PBS Parents states that nursery rhymes are fun for young children to learn and say, which is why it's imperative that you continue the time-old tradition of teaching them to your children. It helps strengthen relationships because these are active songs that grandparents or even great-grandparents can share with a young child.

Children learn important memorization skills from nursery rhymes from the time they're young. Often nursery rhymes are one of the first kinds of books read to infants and toddlers. Because of that, they associate nursery rhymes with not only funny rhymes but colorful pictures or imaginative hand movements so toddlers and preschoolers improve their language skills and their confidence as they act out nursery rhymes.