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SPCA Targets Early Learners To Help Break Animal Cruelty Cycle

SPCA has launched its first ever resources for Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers and new entrant primary school teachers, in a bid to help more young Kiwis learn empathy towards animals and improve animal welfare.

It’s no secret that animal cruelty and neglect are prominent issues in New Zealand, and with nearly two-thirds of Kiwi households owning a pet, SPCA’s Education Manager Nicole Peddie hopes that by teaching our youngest generations to treat animals with care we can help to break the cruelty cycle.

“Sadly, thousands of animals are neglected, abused and mistreated by people each year and unfortunately we sometimes see cases where children or teenagers are involved,” says Ms Peddie. “That’s why we believe it’s so important to teach our children to love and respect animals from a young age, so that we can improve animal welfare long-term.”

Dozens of ECE teachers have already downloaded the resources, which include three modules to help teach young Kiwis to nurture empathy, understanding and compassion towards all living creatures.

“We know from experience and research that children as young as one can show empathy for others, which is why the early years are the perfect time to teach our tamariki to have compassion for animals,” she says.

The resources are designed to show children that animals have feelings and can experience pain, just like people do, so that they can learn to nurture empathy towards them.

“For example, by teaching children that if they pull a cat’s tail, the cat will feel pain, we can help them understand that animals have emotions and reactions similar to them.”

The ECE resources are full of creative animal-themed learning experiences and games that have been designed so that children of all ages and developmental levels can interact with them, one way or another. As well as teachers, the resources are freely available online to everyone including parents, Whānau and community groups.

“Whether you’re a teacher, caregiver or have a young person in your life, I would encourage everyone to check out the resources. It’s also a great way to keep young children entertained, while many are learning from home due to lockdown restrictions.”

SPCA hopes to see its learning resources used in as many schools and ECE environments across New Zealand as possible.

“Shaping the way our children view animals and showing them how to treat all living creatures with love and respect, is a vital step towards ending animal cruelty and improving welfare in Aotearoa.”

As well as the new ECE programme, SPCA also has a wide range of other educational resources for school children and teachers that can be found online:

· https://ece.spcaeducation.org.nz/

· https://kids.spcaeducation.org.nz/

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