Sooner or later, many parents will consider the possible benefits of pets and whether their child should grow up with one. Mostly, the answer is positive because growing up with a pet can benefit children in many important ways — and really enrich their lives. However, looking after animals is a huge responsibility, not least to the animal itself, so should never be taken on lightly. Today we explore the topic and also outline a couple of animal-related initiatives that we have undertaken at our nursery/pre-school in Streatham.
“Although no pet should be the sole responsibility of a child, they can learn to take on certain responsibilities (such as feeding or refilling water bottles) with the aid of a supervising adult.” (1)
The Benefits of Pets & Regular Interactions with Animals
On a simple level, pets are incredibly cute and great fun to be around. As such, most children are naturally drawn to them.
At a deeper level, animals and pets can teach children a huge amount about nature, the similar sentience of non-humans and ultimately also about themselves. Looking after and living with animals can teach children countless skills and new pieces of knowledge. It can also encourage feelings of responsibility, empathy, compassion, loyalty and happiness — indeed, a pet can be the very best friend a child or indeed adult could ever dream of having. They can be a huge source of comfort when a child needs it, for example when facing one of life’s many challenges. Pets are someone a child can confide in, knowing they can trust them to keep their secrets safe. In fact, children often form deep bonds with pets, often just as deep as they would be with a brother or sister. More often than not, pets simply become part of the family.
A pet can be the very best friend a child could ever dream of having
Familiarity with animals and closeness to pets also teaches children respect for other individuals (whether human or non-human), including recognition of the consequences of their actions towards them. It shows them how to care for others too. It can also teach them patience (e.g. when training) and even some of the harder lessons about life cycles.
Animals such as dogs also encourage children to get out and about on walks, perhaps out in nature, which is all good for both heart and soul. Regular playing, walking and interaction with pets can positively transform physical things like blood pressure and chemical levels in the body as well as helping children when they’re feeling down or lonely.
Introducing animals like dogs and cats to the household is quite a life-changing thing. After all, they are the kinds of animals that pretty much become one of the family and, as such, require significant time, care and attention for their own wellbeing. They also often live freely within the house and require access to the garden and, for dogs, regular walks outdoors. They are quite an undertaking, so the decision to introduce one needs careful and thorough consideration. Many animals form deep, lifelong bonds and you will become their family just as much as they become yours. So, that lifelong commitment is an important one — they are absolutely not unfeeling objects to be treated like just a toy.
Pets like hamsters, rabbits, budgies and guinea pigs require less space in the household, of course. Indeed, some types of pets can be housed outdoors in suitable hutches. They’re also small enough to be temporarily moved elsewhere, for example to a friend or neighbour when you go on holiday. However, despite them being small, they too have their own needs and wants, including your care and regular attention. Giving them this, however, will be rewarded and children who spend significant time with any pet will soon begin to pick up on each one’s distinct personality and any likes or dislikes. Treat them well and pets will become trusting and friendly. Dogs, in particular, are incredibly loyal when treated well.
The important thing with all types of pet, though, is to ensure that your child understands that they’re not a toy and they have real feelings and needs of their own. Taking on a pet requires commitment, money for food and bedding etc. and a significant investment of time.
Just like humans, animals need care, proper food, fresh water, friendship, comfort and stimulation. If they don’t get these essentials, they may lead miserable and potentially even foreshortened lives. So, before a family takes on a pet, it’s best to thoroughly research the particular type of animal and exactly what they will require, from food, nutrition and bedding to stimulation (games, exercise etc.), contact with others and medical needs. Families should find out about all these things before taking an animal on. For some types of animal, for example dogs, even the breed and background is important. That’s for the wellbeing of both the pet and the family itself. Remember too that some animals will need training, for example toilet training in the case of cats, dogs and perhaps even ‘house’ rabbits. Some dogs may also require behaviour training. Everything needs factoring in beforehand including things like who will look after the pets while adults are at work, what happens when you go on holiday, who will exercise the dog, clean out the rabbit hutch regularly, feed the rabbit or clean the budgie cage.
Chickens & Butterflies at Little Cedars Day Nursery, Streatham
At Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, we believe that children will learn a huge amount through contact with animals. For this reason, we have our own chickens and rabbits at the setting — and the children adore them! Our rabbits are named Miffy and Bella and indeed naming them naturally encourages children to treat them like individuals rather than something to play with.
We are also raising some new chickens from fertilised eggs that we currently have in an incubator. We’ll teach children all about the life cycle of chickens with these. Once they hatch, children are sure to love the adorable little chicks that will emerge and they’ll be able to watch them grow up from fluffy chicks to adult chickens. When old enough, the chickens will join our existing, fully-grown chickens that we keep for the children in our animal enclosure outside.
Children are able to care for the various animals that we keep and this gives them valuable life lessons as well as being enjoyable and educational. It also means that the animals get love, attention and stimulation, which is so much better than being stuck in a closed hutch all day.
We also have a caterpillar/butterfly enclosure indoors at the setting. Through this, children can follow the incredible life cycle of butterflies, starting off as tiny eggs, hatching into caterpillars, building cocoons and eventually emerging as incredibly beautiful butterflies. This is an amazing metamorphosis for children to witness and teaches them so much about the wonder of the natural world as well as the individual needs of some of its creatures.
Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school in Streatham
Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood
If you are looking for the best childcare nursery or pre-school in Streatham area, please do consider Little Cedars. We offer high quality childcare on weekdays for babies and children aged up to five years old. We’re also conveniently located if you are looking for good nurseries or pre-schools in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.
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