The importance of using nursery rhymes to learn language

Updated May 25, 2017

Learning nursery rhymes is important because they improve language, cognitive, physical and social development. Children develop mouth and tongue muscles by speaking the rhymes and increase memory and recall skills. Hearing nursery rhymes helps children learn how sounds are put together to make words and sentences, and children begin to understand the rhythm and inflection of language. All of these components of nursery rhymes aid a child in learning language.

Language Development

Language development involves a combination of listening and speaking. When children listen to a rhyme, they are hearing how words and sentences are created. Children are beginning to understand the language and how words are articulated and enunciated, and they experience the rhythm and inflections. Nursery rhymes also aid language development by increasing knowledge of vocabulary. Encouraging children to speak nursery rhymes helps them develop their pronunciation and mouth muscles. Nursery rhymes are good practice for these skills.


Many benefits derive from learning nursery rhymes. In addition to language development, children can learn memorisation and reading skills. Rhymes include repetition, and using familiar rhymes often will improve short and long-term memory. Many rhymes also include math skills, such as counting backward from five. These kinds of rhymes increase knowledge of math concepts and sequencing. Reading rhymes from a book increases a child's interest in reading, and children enjoy being read to. Rhymes are fun and are useful for social development because the activity of reading or participating in a rhyme furthers the bond between child and caregiver.

How to Use Rhymes

You can select rhymes from a book or find rhymes on the Internet. Use traditional rhymes and rhymes that involve finger plays. Be dramatic when reading or reciting rhymes; use a range of vocal inflections and even act out scenes. Repeat rhymes often to aid memorisation. Take turns saying lines of a familiar rhyme with your child. Introduce new rhymes to increase your child's repertoire and vocabulary. Record you or your child reciting a rhyme.


Rhymes are fun activities for children and because they are short, children are able to pay attention and enjoy the experience. Memorising rhymes enable a child to understand the rules and patterns of language. When a child recognises the way people use words and sentences, they are much more able to read. Nursery rhymes also foster creativity because hearing or acting them out puts pictures and ideas along with the words, which enables children to use their imagination. If rhymes are not used on a regular basis, it will be more difficult for children to gain literacy skills such as reading and speaking, and it may also stunt creativity. Doing nursery rhymes with your children allows them to grow and develop.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.