Monday, March 1, 2010

Humane Education: Three Super Simple Ways to Encourage A Young Child's Compassion and Empathy for Animals

1. Never refer to an animal as "it." Always use "she" or "he."

2. Read stories that have animals as main characters.

Ask children "How is (name of character) feeling when (event/circumstance) happened?"

Encourage children to connect the animals' feelings to the events that occur, examining the relationships between events and feelings.

With olderish children (Kinders, etc.) ask them, "How would you feel if this happened to you?"

3. Educate children about animal communication.

Help children understand that all animals communicate even though we may not "speak their language."

Learn to say hello in spanish ("hola") or by using a simple hand sign (wave.) Extend this metaphor to the animal world. Encourage your children to become observers: how does your puppy say hello? How does she say "leave me alone..."

"Children trained to extend justice, kindness and mercy to animals become more just, kind and considerate in their relation with each other. Character training along these lines in youth will result in men and women of broader sympathies, more humane, more law-abiding - in every respect more valuable citizens." (1993 US National Parent-Teacher Association Congress)

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