How are songs important for my child’s early language and mathematical development?

The importance of music, rhyme and repetition in early education is very well documented. You only have to hear a snippet of an old favourite song, sing the whole thing through in your head 20 times until it irritates to know why. Music and rhyme are particularly important to early language development. This blog will explore why and give some practical suggestions for things you could try at home.

Why are nursery rhymes important?

Developing early language and literacy skills

Nursery rhymes are crucial for young children because they support them in developing an ear for language. Both rhyme and rhythm help children learn the sounds and syllables in words. Over time, with repeated reciting, children begin to understand how words are formed and link to spoken language. This is the foundation from which children can learn to read and write.

Supports communication and understanding of number

Nursery rhymes often have words that children might not encounter in normal conversation. Furthermore, many rhymes have a link to number and this can help familiarise children with mathematical language. Talking to young children about what a nursery rhyme is saying can help broaden their vocabulary. And regularly sharing number rhymes, such as ‘Ten Green Bottles’ is a great way of helping young children to learn to count both forwards and backwards – the foundations for addition and subtraction.

Helps with cognitive and physical development

Learning and reciting nursery rhymes improves memory, concentration, spatial intelligence, and thinking skills. It will help your child if you teach them actions to link to words in the nursery rhyme. This will help with early motor control and improve rhythm, movement and coordination. Different parts of the brain control different parts of the body. The more that rhyming and movement are combined, the more the different parts of the brain learn to work together.

Developing musicality

The earlier a child learns songs and rhymes, the more rhythmic integration, movement and learning can strengthen the brain.

Music aptitude can be influenced in the early years, and music training (through playing and listening to music) before the age of seven has a significant effect on parts of the brain related to planning and motor skills.

Also, making and sharing music with children can be wonderfully uplifting and can take place anywhere including in the home environment. Young children often love to provide percussion using pots and plans and a wooden spoon. There are also lots of ways to using natural things to make sound when in the garden or out on a walk.

What are your favourite nursery rhymes?

Very often, the nursery rhymes you enjoy sharing with your children will be the same as those you shared with your parents or grandparents in your own childhood. Whatever your experience, sharing rhymes and songs with your children is rewarding, fun and will be very beneficial over time. Here are some nursery rhymes you might know. You many even have others that could be added. There are many different rhymes and songs from a range of cultures.

  1. Hey Diddle, Diddle!
  2. Hickory, dickory, dock.
  3. The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout. (A great one to add actions to)
  4. Here we go round the mulberry bush.
  5. Jack and Gill
  6. The Wheels on the Bus
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