Nursery Rhymes have been taught to children for hundreds of years, with many dating from the Middle Ages. They are the earliest educational tools that children use for learning language and counting skills. Additionally they combine movement and music teaching kids rhythm and melody.

But according to a recent study more than 40% of parents cannot recite a single nursery rhyme all the way through.

Many cultures around the world have their own indigenous nursery rhymes but most of the best known rhymes are from England and more recently the US.

Many nursery rhymes were originally political commentaries from a time when free speech was punishable by imprisonment or even death, especially if you criticized the government of the day.

Other rhymes allude to current events of the day. It is believed that Ring a Ring O’ Roses refers to the bubonic plague, while Remember Remember commemorates the Gun Powder Plot when Guy Fawkes and a group of conspirators attempted to blow up the houses of Parliament, an event that is still celebrated in England on November 5!

Some Nursery Rhymes are quite violent –

Rock A Bye Baby

Rock a Bye Baby

On the tree top,

When the wind blows

The cradle will rock

When the bough breaks

The cradle will fall

Down will come Cradle

Baby and all.

Or

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill

Went up a hill

To fetch a pail of water

Jack fell down

And broke his crown

And Jill came tumbling after

The earliest known collection of nursery rhymes was Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, published in London, in 1744. But, probably the most well known was Mother Goose’s Melody: or Sonnets for the Cradle, published by John Newberry in 1781. Reprinted in the United States in 1785 by Isaiah Thomas, its popularity is attested to by the fact that these verses are still commonly called “Mother Goose Rhymes” in the United States.

Although you may feel that you should try and rewrite some of the lyrics to make them less violent you shouldn’t. Psychoanalysts and educators believe that efforts to make nursery rhymes and fairy tales politically correct are a mistake. They feel that they provide a way to symbolically resolve issues and allow children to imaginatively deal with violence and danger.

Go to the library or your local bookstore and buy a book of Nursery Rhymes, or download some from the Internet. Then, by teaching your children Nursery Rhymes and acting out the movements with them you’ll have fun, while teaching them language and counting at the same time as playing, building a bond and burning energy.

By: Keith Whiting

About the Author:

Keith Whiting is the founder of www.DreamsAndLullabies.com a website devoted to children’s lullabies, baby songs and nursery rhymes. Read other articles and Sign Up for a Free Monthly Newsletter filled with important information and valuable advice on healthcare, sleep problems, nutrition, parenting, etc.