Childhood may look very different today to how it did ten, twenty and thirty years ago... but against all the evolutionary odds, nursery rhymes have stood the test of time and remained an educational / entertainment constant. Bridging the gap between generations, and inspiring and educating children with their verses, there’s much more to nursery rhymes than their innocuous first impressions give them credit for.
Yes, some of these ditties may be outdated, and often politically incorrect, but in terms of preschool development, they are invaluable to cognitive development, language, speech, coordination, imagination, reading... and much more! The lesser known advantages include auditory skills, listening comprehension, plus understanding of sequencing (the beginning, middle end concept) and poetry.
It is mainly the patterns, repetition and physical elements which can be credited with these effects. The overall combination is good for the brain, teaching how language works, building memory capabilities and supporting phonemic skill development. The repeating rhymes, in particular, help the mouth and tongue muscles develop, while the tunes themselves introduce both literary devices (alliteration, onomatopoeia, and imagery) and math vocabularies (size, weight etc).
The physical element of the rhymes is just as important, particularly as cordinating fingerplays is helpful to fine motor skill development, and creative dramatisation builds all-important confidence that will serve children well in later life.