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Animals and children

Connecting Animals and Children

Posted by: Rhonda November 10, 2015

Whether it’s a squirrel chattering in a tree or a beloved family pet, children seem to be universally drawn to animals. A child, upon encountering an animal, is instantly captivated, their eyes light up in an explosion of delight, and all their senses are stimulated. Is it possible to dovetail this natural connection with living creatures into meaningful classroom experiences?

Many studies prove that children thrive when connected with the natural world. Recognizing this need, many early childhood educators offer plenty of outdoor time for their students, but incorporating opportunities for children to connect with animals is more difficult.

“Children’s relationships with animals are special, rich with meaning, and supportive of children’s development,” writes Patty Born Selly. “Animals can offer novel, multisensory experiences that are stimulating and powerful. On a more subtle level, by acting as a sounding board, animals help children to explore feelings, direct their own life circumstances, and resolve their own struggles. And animals sometimes comfort children in a way nobody else can.”

How can educators capitalize on this intrinsic connection even if regulations may restrict classroom pets? Read more.