We make up silly songs and even sillier rhymes in my family. Mostly it’s for fun, but I notice that it ushers in all sorts of other positives. It eases tension and creates fond memories. Sometimes it’s even a strangely effective method of shorthand communication.
You probably do this too without even noticing. Maybe you call your partner and kids nonsense names. Maybe you naturally make up tunes to ease a frustrating experience. Maybe you recite the same chants you learned as a child. Here are some reasons why this is so beneficial.
1. Sing-songy names and rhymes span generations. Your great-grandmother may have said “See you later alligator” when she was a girl. She probably also played finger games like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Passing along these traditions preserves a language of play shared from oldest to youngest.
2. They are a form of cultural literacy. Many of these simple refrains are hundreds of years old, nearly identical to those recited in Shakespeare’s time. As children get older they’ll will be surprised to learn the historical roots of nursery rhymes like “Ring Around the Rosy” and “Humpty Dumpty.”
3. Playground rhymes and chants are part of what sociologists call “folkways.” Even when children don’t know one another, they know how to settle who goes first using “Rock, Paper, Scissors” or “Eenie Meenie Miny Mo.” These classics have surprising staying power and become norms in a child’s world.
4. Hand-clapping rhymes and songs not only promote motor skills and coordination, they’re also linked to academic skills. Research demonstrates that young children who take part in hand-clapping chants become better spellers, have neater handwriting, and better overall writing skills. A round of “Say, Say, Oh Playmate” anyone?
5. Nursery rhymes, songs, and clapping games can advance social skills and confidence. Young children feel comfortable with patterned singing, dancing, and playing because these activities proceed with a predictable sequences of words and actions.
6. Rhyming ditties can teach basic skills (such as “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”) and reinforce positive attitudes (such as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”).
7. Rhymes help young children expand their vocabularies, become familiar with grammatical structure, and use sound patterns such as alliteration. The rhyming words themselves foster understanding of word families—groups of words with different beginning letters but the same ending letters. When children already know that “ball” rhymes with “call” they quickly recognize that “wall,” “fall,” and “small” also rhyme. This establishes a groundwork for later spelling and reading.
8. Action rhymes like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” or “London Bridge is Falling Down” foster full body movement, always a good way to expend energy.
9. Rhymes aid in establishing routines, from clean-up songs to “Teddy Bear Say Good Night.” Familiar tunes and cadences ease transitions from one activity to another in a comfortably upbeat manner.
10. Rhymes are easily customized to fit the moment. Lyrics for “Wheels on the Bus” can be expanded to include such amusements as exhaust on the bus, clown on the bus, and so on. “This Little Piggy Went to the Market” can be played with toes that instead are destined to go to the park where they swing on swings, slide down the slide, drink from the water fountain, and whatever else the child likes to do at the park. The next time it might be played as “This Little Piggy Went to the Beach.” Personalized hand-clapping games, rhymes, and names make play meaningful and memorable.
11. Songs and chants are so essential to our development that we’re coded to recognize them in utero. Start singing!
Originally published in Holistic Parenting
5 thoughts on “11 Reasons Sing-Songy Names and Rhymes Are Important”
Thank you for this wonderful resource. You have inspired me to research the rhymed phrases children in non-English-speaking countries share. See you anon, automaton!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Really true! So much of my homeschooling in the early years involved this.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I am the Principal of a fantastic pre-primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa, and I absolutely loved this post on early language enrichment! We do Nursery rhymes as a theme every year and the Parents are astounded at the value of songs and rhymes and the children just love it.
In my own family we have names and songs for everything â âOh no! Sheâs got a song for that!â being a common refrain. My 10 year old granddaughter still likes her Grandpa calling her by her baby nickname!
Thank you for your interesting and enjoyable posts â I love them.
Reblogged this on Seven Left Turns and commented:
I laboured my first (probably the second also) to Humpty Dumpty….and this is actually inspiring my writings today about EFT and labour and birth….. I tapped myself happy! And smiled big smiles when hearing ‘see you later, alligator!’.