Conventions of Nursery Rhymes

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Conventions of Nursery Rhymes

The conventional nursery rhyme is a vehicle for educating children at an early age of development. Originally constructed to help with language acquisition and understanding, these rhymes are often characterized as “very short poems designed specifically to teach children in one way or another” (Grace 13 Sept 2013). The purpose of a nursery rhyme is to teach language to children by using different techniques helping to stimulate their imagination, while at the same time introducing the skill of memorization and comprehension of simple words (Zuralski). Many nursery rhymes are fashioned as short poems with metrical rhythms, rhyme schemes and repetition of words or sounds. In the poems Young Night-Thought and Where Go the Boats?, Robert Louis Stevenson follows the conventional form of nursery rhymes by using repetition and rhyme schemes to ensure the didactic message is absorbed. Repetition and rhyme scheme go hand in hand when present in nursery rhymes. In Young Night-Thought, Stevenson uses repetition of both sounds and of words as a technique to help with the understanding of basic language. The repetition of sounds consists of rhyming simple monosyllabic words at the end of every line, with the exception of line twelve, to assist with sound recognition. This technique successfully helps to “develop the skills needed for reading (aloud and silently) and learning spellings” (Pearson). Simple rhymes such as “by” (3), and “eye” (4), or “kings” (5), and “things” (6), effectively introduce vocabulary that is easy to remember through memorization of the rhyming sound. There are only slight changes to the spelling of words allowing children to develop knowledge of language with the similar sounds and basic letter usage. These short lines composed of monosyllabic words also create a metrical rhythm. Children use a musical beat to find patterns that are “appeal[ing] to the human mind because of the regularity” (Grace 13 Sept. 2013)...
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