The Brisbane Early Learning Centre integrating animals into learning
“Birds are loud.” “Why do animals chase each other?” “What do ants eat?” These statements and questions likely sound familiar if you have young children. Children are naturally inquisitive and curious about the world that surrounds them and are eager to explore and understand animals and their immediate environment.
Integrating animals in early education programs can help elevate the natural cycle of a child’s inquisitive mind to create comprehension about the world and the creatures around them. With climate change a common discussion topic among adults and adolescents, helping children understand the connection between animals and the environment is becoming more important however, there are also deeper learning opportunities about teaching respect and kindness.
Sunkids Rochedale is a Queensland childcare centre leading this modern approach to learning through the use of animal interaction at the centre of their bespoke, early education programs. The new Centre features a walk-in bird aviary on its upper level and encourages exposure to the animals each day.
Sunkids Rochedale CentreManager, Rebecca Fien shares that utilising the bird aviary teaches children more than just the circle of life.
“We’ve included a bird aviary as a core component of our early education programs. Aside from the excitement of being able to engage with birds or animals in a learning environment, it also supports the development of social skills in children,” Ms Fien said.
“Incorporating animals teaches children empathy, encourages connection outside of oneself, promotes wellbeing and supports cognitive development. Animals also teach children how to care for others, build relationships and create a sense of mutual understanding,” she explained.
“Inspiring natural curiosity and wonder in children can help develop the foundations of a positive and respectful outlook on life. Animal intervention has been linked to positive behavioural improvements and found to influence children’s learning and understanding,” she said.
Including familiar creatures as a part of early learning programs can help decrease children’s stress and anxiety, particularly in childcare centres. It is well-known that children learn best by interacting and engaging directly with their environment and being surrounded by rich, hands-on experiences for playing and learning.
Animals are also a great way to show children diversity and teach them about the commonalities and differences we share as human beings and across different species. Children are like sponges and so much of their learning is around creating a greater context of who they are and how the world works.
The state-of-the-art centre is an elevated educational experience offering activities and programs for every learning style and child’s interest, complementing their animal learning plan.
“The children are supported through a holistic learning environment. The centre offers tropical forests, an outdoor playscape that features sandpits, an art atelier, water play zones, bike tracks, a performance stage, interactive garden beds and quiet reading sanctuaries to let imaginations run wild,” said Ms Fien.
“When deciding where to send your child when you’re ready for childcare, consider the benefits of a childcare centre that offers animal integration as a part of their early learning program – it may bring out the best in your child.”
Sunkids Rochedale is opening in January 2022. They are currently taking enquiries to secure enrolments.
They hope to be open for tours towards the end of December 2021.
If you would like to know more about the centre, please call 07 3493 0401 or visit the Sunkids Rochedale website.
Written by Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music.