Why is rhyming important in the early childhood classroom? Let’s delve into five main reasons toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners need to be exposed to this oral language skill.
Related: Rhyming Games for Preschoolers
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
You’re probably versed in a WIDE variety of rhyming songs, games, and nursery rhymes thanks to your work as an early childhood educator.
Or because your own children wanted to sing them over and over (and over!) again.
And, let’s be honest, you’ve likely had many in your head since your own preschool days, right?
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why is rhyming important, anyway?” I’ve got some answers for you.
What is Rhyming?
Before we jump into the reasons that rhyming is important for kids, let’s define the terms.
I’m sure you’re already aware, but it doesn’t hurt to start off on the same page.
correspondence in terminal sounds of units of composition or utterance
Or, as I tell the kids, rhyming words sound the same at the end!
It’s a phonemic awareness skill, meaning that it’s all about manipulating oral language.
Rhyming is just one small part of phonemic awareness . . . of working with language, sounds within language, and playing with language.
Why is Rhyming Important?
It’s important for so many reasons!
But today we’re going to focus in one what I consider to be the five biggest reasons.
Feel free to leave me a comment about YOUR top reasons for teaching rhyming!
Rhyming and Reading Development
Let’s start by talking about reading (or at least getting ready to read).
A multitude of research has shown a correlation between rhyming mastery and eventual reading preparedness.
Specifically, a lot of educational researchers have found that familiarity with nursery rhymes lends itself to eventual reading success.
Now, if your student or child isn’t a rhyming machine right now, please don’t freak out!
This doesn’t mean she’s going to be a below-average reader when she’s older.
It just means that you can incorporate more rhyming activities into your day.
Oral Language Skills
Next, let’s talk oral language skills.
Specifically, rhyming helps children improve their oral language skills, overall.
It helps kids to playfully manipulate their language, which gives them a kind of “permission” to manipulate language in other ways.
Children have more ownership over their language when they’re encouraged to change it and play with how they speak.
Learning to Write
As previously mentioned, rhyming is an aspect of phonemic awareness (awareness of how to listen to, identify, and change around the sounds in spoken language).
Phonemic awareness lays the groundwork for written language.
So, in addition to helping children with their pre-reading skills, understanding how to rhyme is also a precursor to learning how to write.
Eventually, children will start to notice that the words that rhyme may have some letters in common when written down.
Teachers can comment on this fact when appropriate, thus bringing the kids’ attention to commonalities as they learn how to write.
Related: Rhyming Books for Kids
Learning to Predict
Have you ever been singing or chanting with the children:
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you . . .
And then you pause before that last word, giving your students the chance to yell, “ARE!”
Yes, that example is likely one your students know by heart. So hearing them filling in the word might not be much of a surprise.
But then you introduce a new chant, and you hear your children filling in the rhyming words on their own?
Because the kids are learning to predict what’s coming. Which lends itself to learning how to predict what’s going to happen next in a story, or what an unknown word is when reading a new book.
Why is Rhyming Important? Because It’s Fun!
Rhyming is fun.
It just is, especially when kids get to throw in some of their own nonsense words.
This sense of fun shows children the learning can be entertaining and interesting!
When young children are engaged and enjoying themselves, they’re so much more invested in their learning.
And that investment means more time spent exploring early learning skills, greater classroom engagement, and more opportunities to explore and learn.
Related: How to Teach Rhyming
A Quick Note about English Learners
Years ago, a good friend of mine (from my kindergarten teaching days) asked me about teaching rhyming.
She was working with English learners in kindergarten and wanted more ideas about how to incorporate rhyming into her classroom.
It was this conversation with her that inspired me to start writing about rhyming in early childhood.
With that background, I wanted to take a moment to note that English learners might struggle with rhyming more than native English speakers.
This makes sense, of course, since learning to manipulate a new language can be a bit difficult at first.
This usually works itself out as the children become more familiar with the language.
Research indicates that their rhyming ability often improves parallel to their English reading improvement.
Digital Rhyming Pack
Be sure to check out this amazing digital rhyming resource that is just right for preschool and kindergarten kids.
It comes as a set of Google Slides that you can use in the classroom or as part of virtual learning. Plus, it includes a printable set of the slides that can be used in your classroom centers and small groups.
More Done-For-You Early Literacy Resources
You need to check out Preschool Teacher 101 for a multitude of preschool resources.
Be sure to get on the The Pack membership waiting list while you’re there. It will make an enormous impact on your teaching.
Below are some wonderful early literacy resources that are ready to go. Click on the photos for more information about each:
originally published April 15, 2013