Twinkle, twinkle, nursery rhyme, do you know you’re out of time?

Twinkle, twinkle, nursery rhyme, do you know you’re out of time?

A survey has revealed that the UK is falling out of love with nursery rhymes, with parents claiming that nursery rhymes are simply too old-fashioned to interest their children.

Only 36% of parents surveyed regularly use nursery rhymes with their children, while almost a quarter admit that they have never sung a nursery rhyme with their child.

More than 20% of young parents claimed not to use them because they were not considered educational.

Over 2,500 people recently participated in the survey for National Bookstart Day. National Bookstart Day celebrates the Bookstart programme, which gives three packs of free books to every child in the UK and encourages sharing books and rhymes with children from as young an age as possible.

According to the survey, the nation’s favourite nursery rhyme is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Meanwhile, the top ten across the UK were found to be:

  1. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  2. Incey Wincey Spider
  3. Round and Round the Garden
  4. Baa Baa Black Sheep
  5. The Grand Old Duke of York
  6. If You’re Happy and You Know It
  7. Humpty Dumpty
  8. This Little Piggy
  9. Ring a Ring a Roses
  10. I’m a Little Teapot

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star was the favourite amongst all the regions in the UK, apart from the north east, which chose Incey Wincey Spider.

Gender and region played a significant role in the popularity and frequency of use of nursery rhymes. Of the men surveyed, 32% never use rhymes, compared to 16% of women.

Parents in the Midlands and Wales most frequently used rhymes, with more than 42% answering that they often sing nursery rhymes. Parents in Northern Ireland were the least likely to use nursery rhymes, with only 28% of parents saying that they sang them with their children.

The research also revealed that:

  • The younger generation no longer know all the words to traditional rhymes: over 74% of 55+ year olds knew all the words to Little Miss Muffet, compared to only 58% of 16-24 year olds.
  • Similarly, over 72% of 55+ year olds knew all the words to Hey Diddle Diddle compared to 46% of all 16-24 year olds.
  • 33% of young parents surveyed (16-24) said that nursery rhymes were too old-fashioned to interest their children, while 20% claimed that they were not educational enough to use with them.
  • Men are far less confident about singing nursery rhymes. Only 52% of men surveyed knew all the words to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, compared to 83% of women.
  • 63% claimed that they used nursery rhymes because they make children laugh, while 18% of parents use them instead of reading a bedtime story.

The survey also revealed the powerful impact of early exposure to nursery rhymes, as more than 70% of those surveyed could remember all the words to eight rhymes or more. Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, and Baa Baa Black Sheep were the rhymes that were most easily recalled.

Nursery rhymes often seem nonsense little things, short and silly and sometimes a little bit disturbing. And they seem to be going out of fashion – a lot of early years teachers report that many children don’t know any of the nursery rhymes which would have been universally known when we were children. Yet nursery rhymes are vital to reading development!

Nursery rhymes introduce new words and ideas to children and show how words can sound the same but have different meanings. They introduce ideas like alliteration and rhyme, as well as rhythm and patterns.

Do you still recite Nursery Rhymes to your grandchildren? Please do let us know.