As in most other areas of social emotional development, empathy and caring need to be nurtured through direct involvement in meaningful activities. Involving children in the care of plants and animals is an excellent example of how we do this.
Tending to the needs of other living things requires children to give thought and attention to something outside of themselves. As children interact with plants and animals, they learn that other living things have basic needs which must be met for them to survive. These experiences help children make the connection between caring behaviours and good outcomes, such as growth or affection. Here at Surrey Street, children are involved in looking after our school guinea pigs, Rocco and Jimmy. Through daily grooming, cleaning and feeding routines children begin to develop an deeper understanding of the needs of others as well as building a relationship with the animals. In a similar way, we incorporate the school garden, promoting responsibility and nurture in order to promote the growth of plants and vegetables that can be used later on for cooking.