How To Responsibly Introduce Wildlife To Inquisitive Preschool Children

When they’re young, children are incredibly inquisitive and find everything around the fascinating. Things that move, make noises, and react to their interaction are of particular interest to children who are just over the age two and a half years-old. Therefore, animals are a constant lure for them to explore, grab, touch and play with. Sooner or later, parents need to teach children how to treat living creatures with respect, not only because they might end up hurting the creature, but to keep themselves safe too. To the innocent mind, an animal is a friend and potentially someone who they can rely on to have fun with. Preschool children are very much in the early stage of developing emotions and trying to understand what they mean. It’s the right time to start teaching them about living creatures and how complex wildlife can be so that they can take these lessons and apply them to live a better life.

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First contact


Most schools and parents rely on the tactic to take their children to the petting zoo. Children get to meet goats usually and see what another living creature that’s not from their species look like if they haven’t interacted with a cat or dog before. When they pet them for the first time, it’s going to be strange, because the fur on these animals is unlike hair or any other type of texture they’ve felt. Children can get very excited and filled with emotion. Teach your child not to pull the goat’s ears, horns, fur or tail. It’s a wonderful experience, but children don’t know their own strength. You should be teaching them, that hurting another animal will result in that animal treating them as a threat to their safety. Thus, aggressive actions may be taken by the animal that can shock them. You can also teach children to look out for warning signs that the animal is becoming aggressive by grunting, physical force, and making a loud noise like slamming their hooves on the ground.

Photo by – Dave Buchwald


Bringing home a dog


They say a dog is man’s best friend, but in reality, it’s not that easy. Animal and human relationships are more complex than you might think. Although no way near as intricate as human beings, dogs implement both the human and wild understanding of interaction. Dogs are pack animals, and they want a leader to show them how and what to do. Children should be introduced to your dog, while you are in company with them; never allow children and dogs to meet on their own for the first time. As aforementioned teach your children to be gentle and to respect the fact that they wouldn’t like something tugging on them and hurting them either.


Teaching children the dynamics of a fluid relationship is perhaps the most challenging task of all. When bringing home a dog, just like humans want their space and can be territorial. Children should know that some toys the dog will have a great affection for and simply doesn’t want to share. Teaching them to love the family pet, but keep their distance is a delicate juggling act. It’s okay to pet and stroke the dog, but don’t disturb it when it’s trying to eat, scratch, playing fetch or trying to sleep.

Credit – bethL


Born to be wild


If you live in the suburbs, or perhaps in a rural location, you may want children to get used to wildlife early on. As human beings the hunter-gatherer part of our brain is alive and well; except it has evolved to herd animals too. It may be a big part of your lifestyle, heritage and or livelihood, and keeping wild animals on a farm or just part of your garden is something you might want to pass on to your children. However, one of the concerns you may have as a parent is to keep the dirty side of wildlife away from them until their immune systems have gotten stronger. But, it’s okay to start them off early as long as you inform of precautions and things to definitely not do. If you read an article such as, thoroughly, it explains the dangers of poultry and other backyard animals in detail. Keep your young ones aware of the potential harm such as infection, disease and bad bacteria, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly fresh minds can pick advise up.

Source – Lars Ploughmann


Humble yet profound


You cannot, and should not, underestimate the power of books. Reading your children bedtime stories about animals, from such books like ‘animals of farthing wood’ or ‘the wind in the willows’ will supercharge their imagination. They stand a much better chance of respecting wildlife if they can connect with characters in fiction novels. Animals which they may not have even seen yet, like bears, eagles, frogs, badgers, and wildcats, they can learn about and imagine how they live. One day when you take them camping, these stored memories may prove to be useful as children who are uninterested in the wildlife around them in a natural setting, can be disrespectful and put themselves in harm’s way. Coloring books, join the dot fun and other DIY kits can teach them about the lifespan, habitat, behavior, food, and noises of animals at a very early age.


Pretend play


You can also play physical games with children with an educational element to teach them about animals. You can play games like the hunter and the prey, in the form of hide and seek. You can play the role of the lion and search for them around the home, and when you finally get them ask them questions about the average age a lion lives or what the aesthetic difference is between a male and female. You’ll incentivise them to get the answer right, so they don’t get gobbled up; in the form of tickling.

You can also cut out hand puppets, and challenge them to a coloring competition with the aim of making a real animal. For example, you may want to cut out a bird of prey like a Peregrine Falcon and set a challenge to draw and color the most accurate bird using pencils, paper, and crayons. If they use a wildlife book as a reference, they go through the stages of identifying, analyzing and sketching. Using their hands and mind at the same time is a great way to bolster their cognitive skills as well as understanding what they’re looking at.

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