"Early childhood" can mean 0-6 years old. Animal Education Outreach offers education materials for the end of this cycle, at 5 and 6 years. Our educational resources support teacher's aims and focus on the children exploring in interactive learning and play.
According to the schools curriculum in Ireland, children at these ages are expected to begin to engage with subjects like "citizenship," which includes issues such as "attitudes and values," and also deals with "relationships with others."
Infants and children often have strong relations with animals such as pets and even those they meet in storybooks and films - at this age, non-human animals are friends, companions and even mentors. Animal Education Outreach's materials cater for the sensitivities of children at this age. We focus, for example, on issues of fairness in our relations with others and ask the question, what does that mean with respect to our interactions with other animals.
Animal Education Outreach's materials are informed throughout by the Guidelines on Good Practice embedded in both the Síolta and Aistear frameworks. For example, the Aistear Guidelines state that, "Children and develop by interacting with others. Adults who are respectful listeners and keen observers, who are prepared to negotiate, who change their practice, and who make meaning with children, are those who are most responsive to them. They know the children well, are sensitive to their current level of understanding, know their interests and intentions, and pitch activities and experiences which are just beyond what they can currently do and understand so that they can extend their learning."
Our materials for this level embody the curriculum's requirements that children should learn and develop through play.
In our experience, the most successful presentations have been where the children actively participate, for example, by working in partnership with Animal Education Outreach's presenters in animal naming exercises and "animal category" games.