Although you may not remember all the words anymore, there’s a high chance that, when you were younger, you were sung a number of different nursery rhymes. And there's a good reason for that!

Often sung to babies and children, nursery rhymes have a long and rich history in a number of countries, from Britain, France, Germany, and beyond. Nursery rhymes date back hundreds of years, with some found in existence even during the 13th century.

However, many of the popular nursery rhymes that are used today originated between the 16th and 18th century, although some popular nursery rhymes were created later during the 19th century, and, of course, nursery rhymes continue to be created today.

Given that nursery rhymes have been around so long, there must be a reason why they have proven so popular over the years. The below article highlights:

  • why nursery rhymes can be beneficial for your children; and
  • outlines some popular nursery rhymes that you could introduce your child to.
A book of popular nursery rhymes for kids.
A book of popular nursery rhymes for kids. (Image: CC BY 3.0, Sailko, Wikimedia Commons)

Nursery Rhymes For Kids Have Educational Benefits

There are so many reasons why nursery rhymes remain popular with young children. Some examples of why they are enjoyed include:

  • Their length – short nursery rhymes don’t take long to read, and are easy to remember or recognise;
  • Their repetition – repetition is crucial to many popular nursery rhymes, which helps children remember those words and help develop their aural (listening) skills;
  • Their ability to teach speaking skills – in some nursery rhymes, children are encouraged to speak certain parts, which helps children learn how to pronounce certain words correctly and can improve their vocabulary; and
  • Their history – often, parents remember being sung the nursery rhyme when they were younger, so they are excited to pass on the nursery rhyme to their own child.

What’s more, there can be a social aspect to nursery rhymes, which can help your child bond with other children and toddlers in a group through the act of singing nursery rhymes and songs together. This can be especially beneficial when your child is at pre-school age.

Finally, one of the great benefits of nursery rhymes is the fact that they can act as a stepping stone to introducing your child to different forms of written work, both short and long. Short poems, for example, can be great to move onto once your child is used to nursery rhymes, although there are no reasons why you can’t also introduce your child to short fiction books as well.

Depending on your child’s attention span and level of interest, you could also read them longer poems or stories, but it may be easier to keep storytime short at the beginning and increase its length as time goes on.

Some of the Best Nursery Rhymes For Kids

With all the benefits of singing or speaking nursery rhymes to your children in mind, below you can find a selection of popular nursery rhymes you may want to share with your children. Don't feel as though you have to go through every nursery rhyme. Rather, it might help to try out a few at a time with your child to see how they best react and to determine which nursery rhymes may become their favourites.

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

  • Age: originated during the 18th century.
  • Extract: “Bah, Bah, a black Sheep / Have you any wool?

Humpty Dumpty

  • Age: originated in the late 18th century in Britain.
  • Extract: “Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall / Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

Jack and Jill

  • Age: Another 18th-century nursery rhyme from Britain. It has changed over the years, with a number of verses added.
  • Extract: “Jack and Jill / Went up the hill / To fetch a pail of water.

Ring A Ring O’Roses

  • Age: This nursery rhyme first appeared at the end of the 19th century, later than some of the other nursery rhymes within this selection.
  • Extract: “Ring-a-ring o' roses / A pocket full of posies / a-tishoo a-tishoo / We all fall down.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

  • Age: The first version of the nursery rhyme appeared in the 1850s.
  • Extract: “Row, row, row your boat / Gently down the stream
A rowing boat. One popular nursery rhyme for children is row, row, row your boat
Row, Row, Row Your Boat is a popular nursery rhyme that has been around for over a hundred years. (Image: CC0 1.0, Free-Photos, Pixabay)

The Grand Old Duke of York

  • Age: This English nursery rhyme is one of the oldest on this list, appearing during the first half of the 17th century.
  • Extract: “The grand old Duke of York / He had ten thousand men / He marched them up to the top of the hill / And he marched them down again.”

The Wheels On The Bus

  • Age: One of the later nursery rhymes on this list, it is understood to have been written around the 1930s.
  • Extract: “The wheels on the bus go round and round

Three Blind Mice

  • Age: This nursery rhyme is understood to have been released at the start of the 19th century.
  • Extract: “Three blind mice. / Three blind mice. / See how they run.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

  • Age: This popular nursery rhyme was written by Jane Taylor at the beginning of the 19th century. 
  • Extract: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star / How I wonder what you are

If you have gone through all of the above, or want to find more nursery rhymes, then you can find a huge number of nursery rhymes simply by going online and searching for them.

Some other nursery rhymes that could be easily found include rhymes such as Hickory Dickory Dock, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Pat-a-cake, Little Miss Muffet, Jack Be Nimble and the Muffin ManHere We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, Mary Had A Little LambLittle Jack Horner, and Little Bo Peep. There are, of course, many more that can be found online.

Should you want a more specific list of nursery rhymes, for example, a list that is tailored to your child and what they enjoy, then you could also try to reach out to an English tutor at Superprof for their input on which nursery rhymes would be well-received by your child. Superprof tutors can provide both in-person and online assistance, so it can be as easy as sending a few emails to your tutor in order to have a tailored learning plan for your child.

A background image of stars. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a famous nursery rhyme for children.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is one of the most famous nursery rhymes for kids. (Image: CC0 1.0, PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay)

Get The Most Out Of Nursery Rhymes

To ensure your child gets the most out of nursery rhymes, try to put some time aside on a regular basis to sing your child a nursery rhyme or two. Great times to sing to your child could be at:

  • Playtime;
  • Feeding time; or
  • Bedtime.

Try to sing the nursery rhymes as clearly and confidently as possible as well, as this will help improve your child’s listening skills, and will also help to hold your child’s attention for the duration of the song.

If your child is not responding too well to the nursery rhymes, you can use some props to try and engage your child further. If you don’t have any props, then pictures, different voices, or acting out certain parts of the nursery rhyme could also be effective.

Once your toddler is comfortable with nursery rhymes, then a next great step can be to introduce them to short poems or books of poetry. There are so many charming poetry collections out there that have been written with young children and preschoolers in mind, so there's no lack of choice of quality and engaging works to choose from.

All poems for children, just like nursery rhymes, can be highly beneficial for a child's language learning, as they can also teach concepts such as sentence structure, the use of syllables, the flexibility of word order in English, among many other benefits.

Whether you think your child might enjoy some nonsense poems from the likes of Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear or would prefer something silly like Roald Dahl's poetry collection Revolting Rhymes, there is something out there for your child to enjoy. Equally, if you'd like to keep things short and sweet, then a haiku or limerick can be a great way to improve your child's English comprehension.

Aside from nursery rhymes and famous poems and new poetry, there are a number of different ways to can help develop your child’s listening and speaking skills at an early age. If you are looking for ways to help improve your child’s English comprehension, then you can also look at hiring an English tutor that specialises in teaching preschool age children and toddlers to give some tips and tricks.

If you enter your postcode on the Superprof website, you can be matched with local tutors as well as tutors that are happy to provide poetry lessons online. So it's a matter of whether you prefer one to one tuition, or remote learning for your child when it comes to finding a tutor that's a good match. Why not take a look for yourself, and find your perfect tutor today.

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