Take the Time to Rhyme: How Rhyming Benefits Early Education

According to decades of research on learning, teaching your child to rhyme is anything but a waste of time. For example, studies have found that a preschool-age child’s knowledge and awareness of rhymes are a strong predictor of reading competence. Similarly, rhymes can teach children critical verbal skills, such as repetition and rhythm, that facilitate language development. Read on for more information about why rhyming is an indispensable component of early education with myriad long-term benefits.

Improves Memory and Cognitive Development

Nursery rhymes are fundamentally patterns which can help children improve their recall and memorization skills. Additionally, most rhymes are stories with a beginning, middle, and end. This structure can help children understand cause and effect and hone their sequential reasoning.

Interestingly, the cognitive development benefits of rhymes even extend to fetuses. A study from the University of Florida asked pregnant women to recite a nursery rhyme to their babies three times a day for six weeks at the beginning of their third trimester (28 weeks). The researchers then tested fetal recognition of the same rhyme spoken by a stranger at 34 weeks. By monitoring the fetuses’ heart rate, the researchers discovered that the fetuses recognized the rhyme, suggesting the power of rhyme to foster memory and reasoning.

Rhyming Develops Literacy

Researchers first discovered the correlation between rhyming and reading in the 1980s. Since then, study after study has suggested that good rhymers turn out to be good readers. Nursery rhyme books are commonly a child’s first experience with literacy, exposing them to phonetics and word constituents.

For instance, children who recite the phrase “cat in the hat on a mat” can detect that “at” is the word segment, or common denominator. Understanding constituents in this way helps children break new words down into smaller words, a skill called phonemic awareness. Children who do this well are likely to experience reading success down the road.

Promotes Language Development

Rhymes promote language learning in several ways. For one, children hear how vowels and consonants sound when they listen to nursery rhymes. Rhymes demonstrate how to combine these sounds to form words. Rhymes also teach appropriate pitch, voice inflection, cadence, volume, and rhythm.

Moreover, nursery rhymes often expose children to uncommon words, thus expanding their vocabularies. For example, There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe includes words like “whipped,” “soundly,” and “broth.” Often, children act out nursery rhymes, which helps them put these new words in context.

Encourages Social and Emotional Development

Reciting nursery rhymes is an excellent bonding activity, whether for a group of children or for parents and children. Memorizing and reciting nursery rhymes encourages self-expression and builds confidence because rhymes are so easy to learn. Further, many nursery rhymes contain humor and various emotions, helping children develop these capacities for themselves.

In Short

Nursery rhymes might seem like a silly, unproductive pastime, but volumes of empirical evidence suggest that they are actually invaluable pedagogical tools for small children. Rhymes help develop the memory, language skills, and reading skills in a way that slips in under kids’ radars because, above all else, rhymes are just plain fun. If you would like to know more about how you can foster your child’s early education experience, request a free information kit from K12.

Image via Flickr by taberandrew

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