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Home >  News & advice > November 2017 > Building connections through animals at Goodstart Cromer

Building connections through animals at Goodstart Cromer


Building connections through animals at Goodstart Cromer

Learning about nature and engaging with animals offers many rich learning experiences for children.

Goodstart centres around Australia provide opportunities for children to observe and care for animals, both within centres and out and about on nature walks. Some centres, like Penfield in South Australia, have a wide array of farm animals and have made caring for them part of their curriculum.

Goodstart Cromer on Sydney’s Northern Beaches have taken their own approach to engaging with animals by setting up their first nesting box to provide homes for pygmy possums, feathertail gliders, and antechinus.

In the lead-up to installing the box, children have been learning about the diet and habits of pygmy possums and have also developed their creativity and fine motor skills through a free flowing art project to draw these small and delicate marsupials.

“To say the children have been excited to be involved in this project is an understatement!” Cromer Centre Director, Amanda Wilson, said.

“They have been engaged right from the start and have loved learning about these beautiful little creatures.”

This project is part of the centre’s continuing focus on sustainability, both as an operational concern and an educational goal. The children have already spent a year developing their own vegetable garden, learning about growing food, healthy eating and the concept of food miles which focusses on eating food grown close to home.

The centre’s efforts are part of the Western Shores Pygmy Possum Project set up by the local community Bushcare group in 2014.

Pygmy Possum Project Coordinator Lesley Stevens said the team were thrilled to have the children on board and learning about nature and conservation.

“Knowledge of the natural world, particularly when it involves a tiny photogenic marsupial, has wonderful way of attaching itself to people who stray into its path - no matter what the age,” Lesley said.

How do children benefit by engaging with animals?
Children can benefit in so many ways, with endless opportunities to build on their observations and experiences. Some of these benefits include:
  • Relationships – children naturally form bonds and relationships with animals, which can also help them to build relationships with their peers.
  • Empathy – caring for animals and understanding their needs provides children with valuable experiences to build their sense of empathy.
  • Environmental awareness – understanding environments that animals need provides lessons and insights that can stay with children for a lifetime.
  • Settling – many centres report on a sense of calm that descends on children in the presence of animals.
  • Learning – animals look different, move in strange ways, often build their own homes and eat strange things. There is so much scope to build learnings into the many areas of interest and questions children have about animals.
The team at Goodstart Cromer are hoping to continue building on the children’s interest in wildlife by learning more about the biodiversity and features of their local Northern Beaches area.
 

Goodstart

Posted by Goodstart
23 November 2017



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