How Nursery Rhymes Help to Develop Phonemic Awareness

When we use the term phonemic awareness, we are referring to the sounds that make up the words that we speak, and these sounds are known as phonemes. For example, if we take the word ‘hat.’ ‘Hat’ is made up of three phonemes, ‘h’ ‘a’ and ‘t. From a young age, children begin to recognise and use phonemes without even being aware of it. Once a child reaches school age and they begin to learn to read, they then start to become fully aware of the fact that the words that we use in speech are made up of sounds and they are then able to make the step towards actually hearing, manipulating and identifying these individual sounds. It is only once children become phonetically aware that they can begin to read.

The Role Of Nursery Rhymes

Research has stated that when a child listens to, hears and recites nursery rhymes they are more likely to become a better reader. When a child joins in with a nursery rhyme such as ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ they are not just learning new words in a song, they are indirectly developing their literacy skills and specifically their phonemic awareness and pre reading skills.

Rhyme and Literacy Development

As we’ve mentioned above, nursery rhymes and rhyme in general play a huge part in a child’s phonemic awareness and their acquisition of early literacy skills. One of the reasons for this is because these skills are linked to speaking and listening as opposed to reading or writing. If a child speaks and listens well, they will have a solid foundation for when it comes to reading and writing. If speaking and listening skills are well developed from an early age, a child will do well when it comes to writing and have a good grasp of vocabulary. Likewise, if a child cannot identify sounds and patterns in speech, they are more likely to struggle when it comes to learning sight words and phonics.

Nursery Rhymes Today

In the past, parents sang nursery rhymes with their children whilst bouncing them around, this was commonplace. However, research now suggests that children are not hearing nursery rhymes as much today and if they are, they are hearing less. This means that these days, young children are missing out.

What You Can Do To Help

 The beauty of nursery rhymes is that they can be sung anywhere and at anytime and therefore they are something that we can incorporate into our everyday life, hassle free. When you are in the car, going for a walk, or bathing your children, sing nursery rhymes with them and get them to join in with you. It’s not just nursery rhymes that you can share together, also tell stories and other rhymes.

Other Benefits of Rhyme

 When we sing and retell rhymes with our children, not only are we teaching them phonemic awareness, listening skills, oral storytelling and skills related to poetry, they also learn:

  • To create their own rhyming strings (e.g. cat, hat, bat, mat)
  • To chant songs off by heart
  • To create made up words (e.g. mlat, clat, trat)
  • To keep a steady beat

If you would like know more about how we incorporate nursery rhymes into our curriculum, please let Dr. April know. She would be happy to show you how we have combined nursery rhymes with GELDs to develop a spiral curriculum framework for our kids.