National Poetry Day – 5th October 2023

National Poetry Day was formed in 1994 and since then has engaged millions of people throughout the country in poetry through a range of live events and web-based activities.

The best way to introduce children to poetry is through nursery rhymes – and we often sing nursery rhymes to the children throughout Nursery and Pre-School.  Nursery Rhymes may just seem like a bit of fun, but they have lots of benefits for young children, including introducing babies and children to the idea of storytelling and poetry, as well as promoting social skills and boosting language development. They also lay the foundation for learning to read and spell. Generally, children who will become good readers enjoy listening to speech, storybooks and nursery rhymes.

Cognitive development – Repetition of nursery rhymes and stories is good for a child’s brain, teaching how language works and improving memory, concentration, spatial intelligence and thinking skills. Because these verses are made up of patterns, they are easy for children to memorise them. Nursery rhymes are written in such a way that similar sounds jump out at you, helping a child to segment words into syllables, hear similarities between words that rhyme or start with the same sounds.

Language and Literacy Skills – Nursery rhymes are important for language acquisition and help with speech development. They also help children develop auditory skills such as discriminating between sounds and developing the ear for the music of words.  They are a great introduction to stories as many contain a beginning, middle, and end – encouraging a child to understand the sequencing of a story. Nursery rhymes also increase vocabulary.

Maths – Nursery rhymes help a child start familiarising themselves with numbers. They’re full of patterns, sequencing, numbers, and counting, forward and backward.

Physical – When actions are linked to words in the nursery rhyme, it helps boost motor skills and improves rhythm and movement.

Social and emotional – Nursery rhymes develop humour. Because of the connection between movement, rhythm, and words, singing these songs is a great group activity, encouraging a child to socialise with the other participants.  They also support children’s communication and language development. Nursery rhymes become familiar to children and will therefore provide comfort and support to youngsters in uncomfortable situations.

In celebration of National Poetry Day, you may like to have some fun with appropriate actions whilst singing “Hey Diddle Diddle” with your child:

Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.