Here are five educational benefits of visiting a farm:
• Sensory development – toddlers discover and learn about their world through the five senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. What better place to awaken all of these than a farm? Stroking animals teach children about what different textures feel like. Do they prefer the soft touch of a rabbit compared to the wiry texture of a sheep? A farm is also the perfect place to develop the skill of listening. All of the baas, moos, oinks and neighs will help children identify the animals’ unique sounds. And there is no need to mention how smelly farms can be…
• Motor skill development – motor skills are constantly being developed through a toddler’s life. Motor skills are simply anything that uses their muscles. Gross motor skills involve large movements such as running across the field to greet a cow, or climbing up on a haybale. Fine motor skills are small movements such as holding a brush to groom a horse, or picking a blade of grass to feed the goats.
• Language development – this is the process by which a toddler learns to understand and communicate. Now, the animals may not be able to talk back but children love to chat away to them and perhaps because they can’t respond the children fill the silence happily with even more chatter. And what a great place to learn lots of new words – it isn’t every day that you would need to use the words ‘combine harvester’.
• Empathy – toddlers begin to develop the ability to understand and share the feelings of others and this isn’t limited to other humans. Asking children questions such as, “Do you think the sheep likes being stroked?” and “Do you think the rabbit is hungry?” will help children consider their feelings.
• Food production – it is more relevant than ever that children start understanding where food comes from. Learning that the lovely soft, feathery chickens produce eggs and that pulling on the tuft of green leaves will pull out a carrot is a great starting point. But why stop at the farm? Why not create a vegetable patch at home, or start with something more simple such as growing cress in a pot. The possibilities are endless!