Kids start learning at an early age. Actually, psychologists say that whatever you are exposed to in the first five years of your life will be what transforms your personality for the rest of your life. It’s a crazy phenomenon, but I believe it to be true.
Animals can play a huge part in a child learning skills they will need later on in life. Letting a child have an animal will not only build character, but will get them involved in your day to day routine to where they feel like they are helping out. I can see my daughter’s face light up around animals and when she gets to help out with the care of them. I see her learning every day and growing as she delves into the knowledge, taking it all in.
Here are 5 skills that children like Farm Fit Girl can learn from caring for animals:
1. Responsibility – Animal care need to be scheduled to where they are fed daily at the same time. Farm Fit Girl is learning this skill with her dog Sage. Sage is fed morning and night and Farm Fit Girl knows it. She’s also really into feeding the bottle baby goats we have on the farm. We tell her that the animals are hungry and need to be fed. Soon, she will be jumping up and caring for her animals without us asking her to.
2. Animal Husbandry – The possibilities are endless. I am still learning animal husbandry skills and I have an animal science degree! Nutrition, reproduction, disease and health are just a few things kids can learn by being involved. I learned to give an injection to a calf at a very early age and Farm Fit Girl will, too. At 19 months old, she is learning to feed the bottle babies by herself. She is learning about animals giving birth and has seen them in actual labor. She has seen me assist a doe in labor with her bright eyes. She has seen an animal’s health suffering and has been my right-hand girl to help treat and care for the animal. She’s my medicine bottle holder and right now she’s ok with it. Soon, she will be the one giving the injections. I’m sure of it.
3. Self-Reliance – Decision-making and quick thinking are just two skills kids learn by caring for animals. What to feed the animal and how much? That goat’s head is stuck in the fence – What do I do? That cow is having a calf – What do I do? As she grows, she will learn that there is no absolute right way to fix a problem or issue. She will learn to use her head and her common sense to do what is best for the animal at that given time. By learning how to make decisions, she will be setting her future up for success in her many endeavors.
4. Food Production – Farm Fit Girl has learned about food production by helping me in the garden last summer. She was not on the farm when we butchered the chickens last Fall so she has not experienced meat production yet. We have explained to her that the chicken, beef and goat we are currently eating are the ones we raised. She has experienced the death of an animal and we talked with her about it as maturely as we could with our 1 year old. As she gets older, she will learn how to butcher and cut up an animal the way it was meant to be processed for our own consumption.
5. How to Care – Raising an animal teaches kids how to care. It is easy to explain to Farm Fit Girl that if she doesn’t feed her dog Sage, then Sage will be hungry and maybe even sick. She understands the concept and she cares about keeping her dog healthy. As she gets older, I plan to teach her why we vaccinate the animals safely to keep them healthy. I will teach her about things like withdrawal time to keep our food supply safe so that she learns to care more about her fellow consumers and the food they eat.
There are so many more skills I hope to share with my daughter on our farm and homestead. I wish all children could experience this life and I welcome anyone of you to bring your children to my farm and homestead to teach them skills for a lifetime. To teach them to care, to teach them where their food comes from, and responsibility for their future and for the future of food production for the growing world they will thrive in.
Until Next Time,
Farm Fit Mama