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Folk Rhymes as Mirrors of Childhood

Folk rhymes provide insight into childhood partly because of the basic nature of their grammar and composition and partly because of their themes. The simple structure of folk rhymes and their themes where lessons can be learned reflect the innocence of children and their need for guidance in order for them to grow into good adults. “One, Two, Three” and “Five Toes” are examples of traditional rhymes that give insight into the nature of childhood. “One, Two, Three” is a folk rhyme that is composed of eight lines where a pair of lines end with rhymes in the form of AA, BB, CC, DD.

The basic structure of the rhyme indicates simplicity that is meant for its intended readers—children. Since children are presumed to understand better when what they are trying to learn are put in simpler form, it is not surprising why the structure of “One, Two, Three” and other folk rhymes are intended to be in their most basic form. Childhood is a stage in a person’s life where everything appears to be uncomplicated, a stage where there are more questions than answers and that the answers to those questions are best when provided in their pure and simple nature.

As Bluebond-Langner and Korbin (2007) observes, children are more receptive to information when information is presented to them in simple but creative ways. As for the creative part, “One, Two, Three” provides simple creativity in terms of the ending rhymes that complement the overall theme of the folk rhyme. In essence, the simple structure and grammar used in folk rhymes reflect the simplicity of the perception of children and the innocent ways in which they seek to learn new things in life. On the other hand, the themes found in folk rhymes also provide insight into childhood in several ways.

For one, the folk rhyme “Five Toes” revolves around the theme of differences in individual personalities through the lives of five little pigs. The folk rhyme teaches the lesson that life can be one that stands on one side of the extremes or one that stands on the opposite end of another. The pearls of wisdom embedded in the folk rhyme and in any other folk rhyme signify the need to teach children the values that they need to learn. As Franco and Levitt (1998) notes, reading children stories that teach valuable lessons as part of the ways to show family support is an indispensable activity in rearing children properly.

The fact that folk rhymes are read to children by their parents or close relatives suggests that children ought to be taught by role models by imparting to them lessons from stories. It also suggests that, without the guidance of these individuals, children will hardly learn proper values precisely because they are innocent individuals who are still in the volatile stage of early learning. Folk rhymes provide a way to meet that end inasmuch as they also symbolize how children are in need of vital sources of moral guidance.

According to Frede (1995), teaching children through story reading is perhaps the most fundamental factor in making children aware of their surroundings and of their selves. Like most folk rhymes, “One, Two, Three” shares one of the common experiences in life through a literary form that is easily understood. The same is true for “Five Toes” as it masks the value of individual uniqueness and variations in personal attitudes in terms of the behaviors of five little pigs like how fables are created.

Folk rhymes point us to the idea that children still lack sufficient experiences in life in order to identify what is good from what is bad or what is beneficial from otherwise. Through the reading of folk rhymes, children are given mental pictures of life experiences that they one day will experience on their own. Folk rhymes serve as ways to prepare children for future circumstances. Yoshikawa (1995) even asserts that preparing children for what possibly lies ahead of them is tantamount to providing them the right gears in life so as to be ready when waves of life experiences come to their direction.

“One, Two, Three” and “Five Toes” are just two of the thousands of folk rhymes that have survived the years and continue to give us a deeper look into the nature of childhood. For most folk rhymes, the simplicity they bear clearly reflects the uncomplicated status of the perceptions of children. Folk rhymes serve as bridges for children to have the chance to catch a glimpse of the realities of life in a complicated world one story at a time. References Bluebond-Langner, M. , & Korbin, J. E. (2007).

Challenges and Opportunities in the Anthropology of Childhoods: An Introduction to “Children, Childhoods, and Childhood Studies”. American Anthropologist, 109(2), 241-246. Franco, N. , & Levitt, M. J. (1998). The Social Ecology of Middle Childhood: Family Support, Friendship Quality, and Self-Esteem. Family Relations, 47(4), 315-321. Frede, E. C. (1995). The Role of Program Quality in Producing Early Childhood Program Benefits. The Future of Children, 5(3), 115-132. Yoshikawa, H. (1995). Long-Term Effects of Early Childhood Programs on Social Outcomes and Delinquency. The Future of Children, 5(3), 51-75.

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