NEW RHYMES FOR OLD
What a pleasure it was to read Julian Grenier's column (To the point, 6 January) about whether nursery rhymes have any meaning in the modern world. He mentions how outdated or uncommon phrases, such as 'the conductor on the bus', 'pull the choke' or 'wind the bobbin up', are still sung.
I laughed because it reminded me of recently when I was making some curtains for my playroom. Upon seeing the sewing machine, the children started to ask me about this 'alien' machine, which resulted in them discovering what a bobbin was. I showed them where the bobbin went, what its purpose was and of course, how to wind it up. Naturally, when they had a go, they sang the song that went with the action.
Regarding other action songs that may be old-fashioned, it is unlikely that I will be able to show them a conductor on the bus or a car with a choke, but singing these songs can still open up a learning opportunity. With computer search engines it is fairly easy to find answers to their questions and maybe print off some picture cards.
Some songs go back hundreds of years - for example, 'London's Burning' or 'Ring a Ring a Roses' - yet they are still vibrant and alive today. There is little doubt they will continue to be passed down from generation to generation, along with the origins of the songs.
Finally, further to Julian's question on whether there are any contemporary nursery rhymes out there, I can assure him the answer is yes! At my local library, they run a Story Rhymes session each week where new songs such as 'Say Hello!' are sung. This song encourages children to say hello (in time to the music) in many different languages and appeals to a wide contemporary multicultural audience.
However, will these new songs stand the test of time? Who knows? Ask me when I am 100!
Joanne Wheatley, registered childminder, Westcliff on Sea, Essex
Our letter of the week wins £30 worth of books
As an Early Years Advisor I have been doing some research and training on improving the gender balance in early years, and Nursery World has provided quite a few articles relating to this issue which I have found very useful.
I have argued that practitioners need to look at their planning and provision for boys as part of equal opportunities. All my reading has convinced me that we need to change our attitudes regarding gender and it has heightened my outlook on how society and the media influence attitudes.
I was curious about the Community Playthings block play poster included in the magazine. Is it necessary to have, at the end of the statement about how effective the blocks are, 'and girls become as deeply engrossed as boys'? To me, it seems it should state 'All children become deeply engrossed'.
I would appreciate seeing readers' thoughts on this. I think that society needs to stop flagging up the differences between boys and girls and just celebrate how all children are unique.
Marion Hastings, Early Years Advisor, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire
YOU'VE GOT TO FEEL IT
I entirely agree with June O'Sullivan about 'today's super-efficient disposable nappies' not encouraging toilet training because the child feels neither wet nor uncomfortable ('Too relaxed?', 3 February).
A few years ago I had a child attending the pre-school group who was still in nappies with less than six months to go before starting school. I approached his mother, who said that while she wanted him out of nappies, she didn't want the additional washing etc, as she had three younger children to care for as well. I understood her problem and so suggested that in order for her son to realise he was wet, perhaps he could wear pants underneath his nappies, and while this would mean his pants would need washing, that would be all. She thought this a reasonable compromise. Within two weeks the child was dry.
Since then I have made this suggestion to other parents, with similar results.
Anne Ferries, by e-mail
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