The excited toddler teacher inquired, “What’s our policy on farm animals? Can I have a goat, sheep, horse, or chicken visit?” Why not? If we can be safe, responsible, and respectful to animals and the children, there are so many experiences that we can offer. Too often, teachers have created limitations for what they can or cannot do with children. What young children deserve are teachers willing to see beyond self-imposed limitations and to engage in out-of-the-box thinking that brings experiences alive for children. How else will toddlers know about a sheep unless they can actually see its size, feel its wool, smell it, feed it, and hear it? Challenge yourself to rethink every lesson plan and evaluate it for ways in which you can offer children experiences that are real, relevant to their lives, and respectful. Children deserve so much more when exploring the farm than gluing cotton balls on a precut outline of a sheep or singing “Old MacDonald.”
In loving memory of Gryphon House author Leanne Grace, MEd, we are sharing pieces of her inspirational writing every Wednesday. Leanne was the director of professional development at Hildebrandt Learning Centers and a lifelong advocate for early childhood education. She inspired the early childhood community to prepare children as lifelong learners with her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. One person can make a difference, and Leanne did just that. She will be sorely missed.