Nursery rhymes are a wonderful part of childhood, and an effective area of exploration and study in the early years of study, whether in the classroom, or in a home education environment. By nature, childhood rhymes communicate simple concepts in a sing-song rhythm, assisting youngsters in learning simple ideas and patterns. Nursery rhymes are also entertaining, a great means of diversion. As an element of home school instruction, the nursery rhyme is the perfect springboard into a thematic study, incorporating multiple subjects, linked to a single rhyme, or to a set of rhymes, particularly in the early education year of kindergarten.
If you have read nursery rhymes to your youngster, you’ve laid a wonderful groundwork, as the material will be comfortable and familiar. If you haven’t spent much time reading to your youngster, you will still be able to successfully teach nursery rhymes, and you will be able to teach with nursery rhymes. There are many styles of home schooling, and a great deal of variation in approach and method. Adapt these suggestions to suit your individual needs and circumstances.
Young children can memorize small pieces of verbal material. A short Bible verse, for example, is well within reach. Nursery rhymes will take a little more effort, and more so if you haven’t recited many with your child. However, it’s the rhyming that makes the verses memorable. If you wish to have your kindergarten child learn a particular nursery rhyme, take time to read it frequently, having your child repeat each line after you, at first. As your child remembers better, have him do the reciting, and you follow him. Only correct when he’s really struggling. Assist the memorization by acting out the nursery rhyme together, as this will add another learning modality to the exercise, and assist in assimilation of the material. Discuss any words that your youngster may not understand, and work on explaining these definitions. Take time to have your child narrate what has taken place in the poem. Often times, a very short story is relayed through a nursery rhyme, as in “Hickory Dickory Dock”, or “Jack and Jill”. Narration is a simple way to survey your child’s reading/listening comprehension. Ask questions, particularly those that begin with what, why, and how. Allowing your child to answer open-ended questions will help with higher level thinking skills.
Taking the study of nursery rhymes farther, a home educating parent can provide a multitude of relevant activities. Art projects are great fun for the kindergarten student, and you can keep it as simple as drawing pictures, or you can make it as elaborate as creating a clock from a paper plate, and making pom-pom mice. The more elaborate, the more direction will be needed at this age.
Continuing in a thematic unit approach to your nursery rhyme study, you and your child can concentrate on numbers, shapes, colors, or other common things to appear in the various rhymes you study. Create a bulletin board in a location with easy access, and label sections of the board with shape, numbers, animals, colors, and any other topic you might think of. Do this in areas, or by column. As you study a new rhyme together, have your child tell what he learned about most in the given rhyme. Post the rhyme appropriately on your bulletin board. Continue to look at new rhymes throughout the year.
Add physical activity to the study. Acting out the rhymes, as mentioned previously, is a fun activity to incorporate. Further, it involves physical activity, very important for kinesthetic (hands on) learners. Find musical versions of the rhymes you study, and play them, dancing along to the music, singing along with the lyrics.
Foods can be incorporated into your study, as well. When you study “Hickory Dickory Dock”, make cheese sandwiches, in honor of the brave mice. When you learn “Little Jack Horner”, have plums for snack. At the end of the year, put a little buffet together, and see how many rhymes your child remembers, based on the associated foods.
In a home educating environment, mastery learning takes priority over speed. The goal isn’t so much to recreate a traditional classroom, but to provide an education that is specially suited to your child’s interests, and needs. The kindergarten year need not be heavily dedicated to formal book work, but rather, is perfectly suited to discovery learning, and to pursuing rich topics together, based on common interests of parent and child. Make the most of this time, and use nursery rhymes, not as a simple topic to check off a list, but as a source of rich topics to explore.