Friday, 16 March 2012

Talk to the Animals

As I sit here typing our dog keeps nudging my hand with his tennis ball to remind me he's there and he wants to play. He's a black labrador, the runt of the litter and he has brought us so much pleasure. Children love pets and when my autistic son feels sad he can often be found sitting in the dog basket with Benny or wrapped up with the dog in his duvet. Dogs in particular have a great way of communicating their concern and seem to sense when people need comfort. One of the things I've discovered is the educational benefit my children have gained through having pets. At the moment we have a dog, a rabbit and four hens. The children have learned how to take responsability for caring for something other than themselves, they've helped build a Coop for the hens, designed a run, collected eggs, watched in dismay as the chickens moulted and learned the tricks of business by selling their eggs. They've also been lucky enough to witness the birth of lambs during the lambing season in the fields that surround our cottage and even handled the sight of a still birth lamb , learning that his skin would be used to make a coat for an orphan lamb who needed a mother. We live within a few miles of a zoo and during the winter months admittance is free. The children have watched as tiger cubs have grown from small cats into full blown adults, they've learned the names of Emporer tamarins with their curly moustaches and roared with laughter at the apes as they swung round their cages on rope. They've recorded their antics on camera and taken photos for their projects and my youngest son has even posted pictures of our hen Wilma on You Tube under the title "The Hopping Hen!" It is easy to underestimate the educational value of trips to local farms and wild life parks. If you can take a look at the Open Farm website and grab the opportunity to take you children to a free open day. You don't need to 'force' their learning. Let them touch the animals, ask questions about them. If you don't know the answers make a point of asking,experts love to share their passions. Alternatively look up the answer in a book or the internet and learn together.Life becomes a great adventure !

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