The School Pets
We have several animals in the schools ranging from rabbits to birds. There are several reasons for having the animals in our schools, covering all the areas of our curriculum.
Caring for animals and people other than yourself is an important part of social development.
Personal, social and emotional development
Through working with and caring for animals the children learn how to treat and interact with the different types of animals they come into contact with.
They learn how to care for the animals following strict health and safety guidelines, this teaches the children about personal hygiene as well as creating a clean, comfortable environment for the animals.
Through interacting with the pets in the school, working closely with an adult, the children learn how to handle and respect the animals, what they like and what they don't like and why.
Caring for animals and people other than yourself is an important part of social development. The birds play a really large role in this area, watching the delight on a child’s face the first time they hold a bird is a pure pleasure. Birds return the love of a person in a very special way, and the children recognise this and respond to it. The birds loves them and they love the birds.
Understanding the world
Whilst taking care of the pets in the school the children learn about which country they are from, the flora and fauna of the country, and the natural diet and life of the animals. We also look at the climate of the different places the animals come from, and the yearly cycle that affects the behaviour and physical changes of animals. We also look at the life cycle of different animals, how they are born and how they develop
We can also examine the moral issues of transporting animals from their natural habitat, and the good and bad sides of zoos and pet parks.
Expressive Arts and Design
The children really enjoy drawing the animals either in their school setting or imagining them in their natural surroundings. A lot of craft activities occur as a direct result of our work with animals that encourage art and craft techniques, from recreating their natural habitat to making life size models of the animals. Animal movements can be set to music in dance sessions, and children can match animal movement to different types of music.
Acting out animal movements during P.E. and dance play a large role in early years physical education sessions and it is interesting for the children to be able to observe a real rabbit hopping or a bird pecking before they act out the same skill. This helps them discuss body parts, and which bit to use when and how.
Communication and Language
There is a lot of language around animals their habitat and the caring routines, we have to plan for them. It is a great way to introduce new words, and it certainly stimulates discussion between the teacher and the children as well as between the children themselves, and also just as importantly between the children and the animals!
Unfortunately a child with a serious allergy to animals is advised not to attend the school, this may seem harsh but we are one of the few schools if not the only school in Finland that has animals that play such an important role within our curriculum and philosophy. This is something we wish to offer the children who attend our schools, the chance to really understand animals, and promote a feeling of responsibility that we all have in promoting animal welfare both in captivity and within their natural environment. Early contact of the right sort with animals will encourage a more responsible attitude to protecting and valuing the natural world in the next generation.