Studies show that dogs are especially helpful to children in making emotional connections, and they are particularly useful in educational settings. Children who struggle to relate to their peers or unfamiliar adults can often forge relationships with dogs. While not everyone can own a dog, it is a pleasure to see children enjoying quality time with such loving companions at nursery or school.
Why dogs are beneficial to children
- Dogs offer unconditional love
- Dogs teach children empathy
- Caring for a dog increases a child’s self-confidence and independence
- Communicating with a dog improves social and verbal skills
- Dogs help us relax, lower our blood pressure and keep us active
Educators have long known that bringing dogs into educational settings helps children learn. Mary Renck Jalongo, PhD author of The World of Children and Their Companion Animals identified this in 1984:
“The dogs in children’s lives often influence development across domains, promote children’s safety and well-being, support the goals of inclusion, and play a role in programs and interventions.”
Both dogs are well-suited to the nursery environment as they are gentle and fearless, greeting everyone as a friend. They don’t shed hair, so they are very good amongst children with allergies. This makes them excellent therapy dogs who love to be around children.
The practicalities of dogs at nursery
Keren’s Nursery embraces animal companions whenever possible. Children at Keren’s Nursery enjoy regular visits from two dogs; Buzz the Maltese and Digby, a Norfolk Terrier.
Buzz and Digby are introduced to the children at gathering times, where children start bonding with them in a gentle relaxed way. Some children are resistant to begin with. It’s fascinating to see how they slowly gain confidence and approach them eventually. Soon enough the children begin to ask their teachers when they will be visiting them again. It’s amazing to see the level of enjoyment and positive emotional impact on the children when they around.
It’s especially enthralling to see how the under two’s react and communicate with the visitors. They explore their fur, ears and tail, and begin to make eye contact with them and marvel at their reactions and excitement.
Buzz joins the children on outings, they take him on their visits to the local park, shops and on their Forest School sessions. They take turns in holding his lead and watching his behaviour as they walk. The children are also involved in training him, often gives him instruction and treats.
It’s not just dogs that have a positive impact on children. At our most recent farm animal visit, the children’s excitement, awe and calm was palpable in the presence of different kinds of animals, such as rabbits, hedgehogs, tortoises and even an owl.
Bringing dogs to the nursery environment has enriched the children’s development and understanding of the world. Based on all the above and growing animals in her home, Keren highly recommends, where possible, pets at home. When it comes to caring for a pet, our children gain all sorts of skills; empathy, responsibility, and exercise to name a few.
An article by Keren’s Nursery.
Keren’s Nursery comprises three Ofsted outstanding nurseries in Holland Park, Hampstead Garden Suburb and Holland Park.
To find out more visit www.kerensnursery.com or reserve a place at the next Open Days at Holland Park on Thursday February 14th 9.30 am – 11.30 am or Hampstead Garden Suburb on March 5th 9.30 am – 11.30 am.