The Seamist children have been enjoying spending quality time with our pet guinea pigs, Maddie and Molly. It’s been a learning curve for the number of children who do not have pets at home as they have had to learn through exposure and discussion that animals are wonderful to be around. The staff have noticed the calming effect that holding and patting the guinea pigs has had on the children. There has also been great discussion about the needs of the guinea pigs and many children have shared stories about their pets at home or animals that they have seen or encountered.
Having small group experiences with the guinea pigs has enabled the educators to observe and discuss important life lessons with the children. Taking care of the natural environment and showing compassion to animals is an important step towards children learning that our interactions with the world around us can influence our experiences in negative or positive ways.
Pets give unconditional love and can teach empathy through understanding that the living animal needs to be cared for and treated respectfully. Also pets can be very therapeutic for children; they can bring an instant calmness to a child who may be otherwise engaged in emotionally charged behaviour or reactions and an educator simply suggesting that the child assist with filling up its food bowl or water bottle or giving the pet a cuddle is instantly gratifying for a young child.
EYLF Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity
EYLF Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world
EYLF Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of well being
EYLF Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners
EYLF Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators