Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star 5 Stars

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By Linda Caroemusic and early years specialist and part-time teacher

A recent survey carried out by Booktrust reveals that parents are not favouring nursery rhymes. However, Linda Caroe explains why sharing nursery rhymes with young children should be encouraged

Sharing nursery rhymes

Voted the nation’s favourite nursery rhyme in 2009, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ is over 200 years old, and is a shorter version of the poem ‘The Star’, written by Jane Taylor in 1806. The tune is probably an old French folksong. Its enduring appeal is the simple, repetitive tune with words that ‘paint a picture’ of the sky at night. Its relaxing and gentle quality has naturally calmed and soothed generations of children, making it the perfect lullaby.

Are nursery rhymes too old-fashioned?

Nursery rhymes are part of our cultural heritage. But are they simply too old-fashioned and of little educational value for the 21st century? Research indicates that they are the ideal musical experience for fun and learning – inspiring imagination and creativity and helping to develop language skills. Children have always enjoyed the repetition, rhyme, alliteration and fantasy of nursery rhymes. The Russian writer Chukovsky called them ‘topsy turvies’ – the nonsense element helping to strengthen a child’s understanding of what is ‘normal’ in the real world.

Music for learning

Music is an ideal vehicle for learning. It is processed by a different part of the brain to that of speech, so information conveyed through music and rhythm is easily remembered. Research shows that singing helps brain development, exercises muscles and improves breathing. It also improves creativity and concentration, and helps to boost memory, confidence, self-esteem and even the immune system.

Through my experience in teaching and musical workshops, I have developed an approach to sharing nursery rhymes, closely linked to child development. Each stage can be adapted to suit the children’s ages and abilities, with additional activities to support the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It is important that children can engage with child-friendly music.

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