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27th September 2018

Mary Chater on ‘Rhymetime’ with East Sussex Libraries at the Links Project, St Leonard’s on Sea, Hastings

Five little ducks went swimming from July 2017 to March 2018 in the company of Incy Wincy Spider, Dingle Dangle Scarecrow, See The Little bunnies and Humpty Dumpty.

Last year East Sussex Libraries set up a weekly ‘Rhymetime’ session for refugee mums and babies at the Links Project (support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) Hastings. The funding came from the DCMS’s Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund.

Sitting on two fluffy dragon rugs with a bag of rattles, librarian Michele Brooker and her colleagues cajoled, sang and danced their way through a sack full of nursery rhymes for half an hour every Wednesday afternoon.

The singers, dancers and foot tappers came from countries including Sudan, Eritrea, Kurdish Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, China, Syria, Romania, Poland, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Albania and Ukraine.

During the school holidays there might be fifteen kiddies with their parents and then at other times the attendance was sparse but the melody and the beat always drew a small body or two in.

To hear and watch a young child start to clap their hands, leave their mother’s arms, tentatively join in the singing then copy the actions to Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes was one of those special moments in life.

This is a model for English language learning that can easily be replicated with tangible, heartwarming outcomes.

Mary Chater is a ‘Rhymetime’ singer and volunteer at Links

She also runs Shakespeare in Italy