Young children and animals

July 30, 2018

Owning a pet or interacting with animals in nature, sanctuaries or zoos can be a great learning experience for young children.

The special bond children can develop with a household pet or the inquisitive delight they experience when seeing different creatures in their habitat can contribute to early learning from building relationship skills and empathy to expanding vocabulary.

Interaction with animals has also been shown to be good for lowering stress and anxiety — some libraries, childcare centres, aged care facilities and classrooms have even introduced live-in pets or regular visits from therapy animals.

Whether or not you have a family pet, you can nurture your child’s natural curiosity about the animal world through books and nursery rhymes.

Look for some of these titles at your local library:

  • Hickory Dickory Dash
  • Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell
  • Let’s Get a Pup – Bob Graham
  • Millicent and Meer – Richard Byrne
  • Sparky! – Jenny Offill
  • I Want a Pet – Lauren Child
  • Land Shark – Beth Ferry

You can extend the experience by learning or singing a favourite song and pulling out animal toys or magazine clippings to play with while you do. Here are some good ones: