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Learning love for the environment


early childhood love for the environment

"Early Childhood—Empathy

During early childhood, the main objective of environmental education should be the development of empathy between the child and the natural world. In addition to regular opportunities to explore and play in nature, one of the best ways to foster empathy with young children is to cultivate relationships to animals. This includes exposure to indigenous animals, both real and imagined (Sobel 1996).

Young children have a natural curiosity and an affinity for animals and especially baby animals (Sobel 1996; Desouza & Czerniak 2002; Rosen 2004). Animals are an endless source of wonder for children, fostering a caring attitude and sense of responsibility towards living things. Children interact instinctively and naturally with animals, talk to them, and invest in them emotionally. A little-known fact about children and animals is that studies of the dreams of children younger than age 6 reveal that as many as 90% of their dreams are about animals (Acuff 1997;Patterson 2000).

Endangered species are not appropriate at this age. Rather, the common, everyday species that fill children’s yards, neighborhoods and communities are the developmentally appropriate choice, as children can relate to them. Moreover, with children at this age, the environmentally correct notion of not anthropomorphizing* animals doesn’t apply (Sobel 1996; Kellert 2005).

Children’s exposure to relationships with animals needs to be cultivated with live animal contact and animal-based stories, songs and other experiences. Developing an emotional connectiveness—empathy—to the natural world is the essential foundation for the later stages of environmental education (Sobel 1996 & 2008)."
NURTURING CHILDRENS BIOPHILIA: DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOR YOUNG CHILDREN by Randy White & Vicki L. Stoecklin © 2008 White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group

* anthropomorphizing "is strongly associated with art and storytelling where it has ancient roots. Most cultures possess a long-standing fable tradition with anthropomorphised animals as characters that can stand as commonly recognised types of human behavior." WIKIPEDIA
So this article is saying it is okay to do this with children.
Examples include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll, The Miffy Books and Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter.

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