Updated: Aug 24, 2018
I remember as a very young girl reading the Mother Goose nursery rhymes. The stories were so fun and silly! I had no idea I was learning skills that would make me a better reader, speaker, and overall learner. It wasn't until I became a speech-language pathologist, seemingly a thousand years later, that I discovered the true value of rhyming.
What makes rhyming so special?
From a speech perspective, it's the attention to individual sounds at the beginnings of words. When I say "four" and "door", they mean two different things. I can't say them the same way and be understood. Many children, especially those with phonological disorders, don't know they're saying the words wrong. So, when mom says "It's not a tat, it's a cat", the child might reply, "yes, a tat"! Rhyming words are often used in speech therapy to help draw awareness to individual sounds at the beginning of words.
From a reading perspective, nursery rhymes are short, interesting stories. Very young children listen from the beginning to the end, building attention and comprehension. The repetition and overall rhythm of nursery rhymes keep the child focused and engaged, even to the most nonsensical of stories .
So, why aren't people reading nursery rhymes with their children anymore?
I don't know. Maybe it's the shift in focus to alphabet, numbers, counting, shapes, colors, and overall rote memorization that is now a main focus for preschool. While these are important skills, they are not skills that build language. Language (vocabulary, grammar, social context) is the foundation of all learning. Regardless of the reasons, it's time to shift back. Pull out the old Mother Goose book!