Why Nursery Rhymes are Still Popular
When parents or caregivers sing nursery rhymes to children, they become part of a historic process of sharing stories through the generations. The stories shared in modern nursery rhymes date back, in some cases, to the Middle Ages. In the case of many nursery rhymes, it is nearly impossible to determine the actual origin, but many have worked tirelessly to make educated guesses based on historical evidence. Many of the most famous nursery rhymes have undergone myriad of changes throughout the centuries, leaving them obscurely referencing their ancient pasts.
Many of the nursery rhymes we use today were actually not intended for children. They were part of the oral-based society, meant as a means of spreading coded rumors about the then-authority figures, relaying news, or working out a moral dilemma through song. The existing nonsensical rhymes were part of the tradition too, used to make reference or talk about current events. It was during the 19th century that the Victorian society romanticized the past and all that childhood once was, after which nursery rhymes were written down and taught to children.
Many of the poems of old may not seem relevant when text is reviewed alone. References to kings and queens may not seem relevant in a world based on computers and television. So why do parents still use them? Because they remain an integral part of our past and they have been proven effective in cognitive development and emotional bonding.
Nursery rhymes are quite good for the brain. The repetition and storytelling teach children about rhyming and language. It improves memory which can then be applied to all manner of activities. It also introduces children to literacy for the first time. It can be a visual and an oral experience simultaneously when the nursery rhymes are read to the children. They are also a means of preserving a common culture between all generations. It allows children the opportunity to participate in the old tradition of sharing and storytelling which in and of itself brings people together.
Nursery rhymes are of course a great group activity for schools and churches and other after-school care centers. They allow even shy children to feel confident about singing and dancing with their peers because the nursery rhyme is quite fun and simple to grasp. This builds confidence in children immediately and allows them to form a connection between the words, the rhythm, and the movement. And of course, nursery rhymes are fun. Even if children do not know the literal meaning of the text, they no likely remember them and the way they sounded. Children did not need a deeper meaning for their nursery rhymes to be an effective way of sharing language and joy.
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