Most nursery rhymes at bedtime are good choices. Why? Because nursery rhymes are all stories and stories settle children by quieting their busy brains. These are stories that are short enough for you and your child to learn to recite by heart. A nursery rhyme can be repeated exactly, endlessly, night after night for days and weeks and more. And what do children love? Repetition! ‘Do it again, say it again, sing it again’ – these are the favourite catch cries of the young.
Nursery rhymes can tell them to go to bed
It gets better. A nursery rhyme about bedtime packs a double whammy. Not only is it a short story that’s repeatable, it also tells them what to do at that all important rest time for them (and their caring adults). So to lull children into sleep or at least to get the idea working in their brain, I love these two classics – Wee Willie Winkie and The Man in the Moon Looked Out. On our store website, both of them are sung by the warm-voiced grand-father Michael Cashen and you can hear the previews if you click on the links in the bedtime lesson plan, In the Big Bed.
Wee Willie Winkie
The first one tells us about a man who runs from house to house asking the adults ‘Are all the children in their beds for now it’s eight o’clock?’ Thank goodness someone’s in charge because children will push bedtime out for as long as they can, and it’s good to have someone else to hold them responsible when you’re feeling weak. ‘But (insert child’s name here) Wee Willie Winkie says it’s eight o’clock, bedtime.’ No more needs to be said, it’s a rule bigger than both of us!
The Man in the Moon Looked Out
The second nursery rhyme is about a man who lives in the moon. It’s his job to tell ‘the children on Earth to think about getting to bed’. We’ve learned from experience that you can’t just decide it’s bedtime and whisk the child into bed, you have to prepare them for this transition. So let’s get the Man in the Moon to help us think about getting to bed. Let’s get into our pyjamas, clean our teeth, say goodnight to the people and the pets, get our book, dim the light, climb into bed and have a story or two.
Nursery rhymes as part of the bedtime ritual
Small rituals get them ready for the idea of snuggling down for sleep, so why not make one or two nursery rhymes at bedtime part of your sleepy-time habits. Prepare your children for an enjoyable rest with music, story and picture book all wrapped up into one delightful cultural package. After all, it’s their birthright and it works. Then when they are nice and quiet, you can sing them a lullaby, but that’s a post for another day – or night. Nighty-night.