Rhythm is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence.” It can be created innately by nature (e.g., a beating heart, strumming of rain drops, a wagging dog’s tail) or intentionally by humans (e.g., marching, singing, tapping our fingers).
From an educational standpoint, learning about and cultivating a sense of rhythm can be very beneficial in myriad realms. The pattern recognition inherent in learning rhythms can improve athletes’ performances, make people better observers, and help with language fluency and reading. Also, rhythm is integral to playing instruments and singing. Research studies over the years have suggested a correlation between music and math skills, since music (both listening to and creating) and spatial-temporal reasoning problems in math activate the same areas of the brain.
Since we know that rhythm can teach us many things, how do we go about teaching it to our children? For young children, ages 5 and under, sing nursery rhymes; read rhyming books; play clapping games, such as Pat-a-Cake* and Miss Mary Mack*. For older children, play freeze dance; play more advanced clapping games, such as The Cup Game*, Say Say Oh Playmate*, and Rockin’ Robin*; clap different rhythms for kids to repeat. Of course, learning to play an instrument (including voice) is a more obvious way to learn various rhythms.
As you can see, learning rhythm can be fun and not seem like learning at all! Yet, the benefits of cultivating a sense of rhythm are boundless