Children attending MercyCare Ballajura Early Learning are developing their empathy and self confidence, and feeling less stressed and anxious, thanks to the presence of several animals throughout their learning day, centre manager Amanda Andrew has said.
While many MercyCare services have animals onsite for children to “love and learn” with, Ballajura stands out, with chickens, guinea pigs, fish, rabbits and hermit crabs all a part of the daily activities with the children.
“The children help to feed all the animals, make sure they have enough water to drink and collect eggs,” Ms Andrew explained.
“They also help rake out their pens and keep things clean and tidy. The animals are a big part of our centre and the children love them.”
The animals are also part of the Centre’s Environmental Sustainability program.
Fresh greens are picked from the vegie patch by the children to feed to the animals, and leftover scraps from mealtimes are diverted from landfill and fed to the animals instead.
One area where the presence of animals is especially supportive is when children are settling in to the service.
The pets, Ms Andrew said, provide a friendly and familiar face for children every morning and “they provide enormous comfort with each cuddle”.
To learn more about safely and ethically keeping animals in an ECEC environment, please see here.