As a working parent, I usually have limited time to spend my son. On the weekends, I try to make the time special by taking him on excursions that will sooth his soul, inspire his interest and create opportunities for us to bond. Lately, I’ve noticed that he especially loves the wonderful time that we spend together at our local aquarium. After thinking about the reasons, I realized how our excursions shaped his character, his temperament and his interests. I also realized that these trips to the our local aquarium taught him some surprising character lessons.
8 Character Lessons Visiting Local Aquariums and Zoos Teaches Your Child
Learning about animals, interacting with animals and visiting them at local zoos and aquariums taught my son empathy. During the first few visits, he was preoccupied with learning the names of animals. But, eventually, he enjoyed feed them more. The act of feeding the animal made him feel like he was taking care of the animals. Seeing real animals eat food from his hands inspired him to want to care for them more.
2) Open-mindedness and Inclusion
At aquariums and zoos, my son often likes to point out animal differences: big versus small, red versus yellow, long hair versus short hair. Spotting these differences and then loving all of the combinations of differences is great practice for an open-minded heart and an inclusive attitude.
At most zoos and aquariums, there are often play areas where children can play with toys that teach them about the animals. Sharing is almost a requirement at these play areas. When these places are crowded, it is actually a wonderful opportunity to practice sharing.
4) Taking Turns
At zoos and aquariums, there are often animals that you can feed and pet. Most often, waiting is required to allow for each child to have a turn with the animals. For a preschooler, it’s often very difficult to take turns. However, with a cute animal waiting to be petted, even the most fussy preschooler will wait.
Not everyone likes to see an animal up close. Sometimes, sensitive preschoolers are scared of animals that are larger than their stuffed animals at home. In real life, even over a glass window, the animals can be overwhelming. It really takes a brave child to get over the scary feeling and embrace the animals.
6) Geography & Worldly View
There are many animals from different parts of the world at your local aquariums and zoos. They are wonderful places to learn about geography. Learning about where the animals come from gives the child another image of the places the child is learning about on the globe. Seeing these up close imprints that image about that part of the world that much more clearly.
7) Environment & Connectedness
In the U. S., children often live in a sheltered world where concerns for the world at large do not take hold until after elementary school. However, when visiting a zoo or an aquarium, inevitably, environmental issues will come up. Learning about environmental issues and the interconnectedness of the ecosystem inspires the child to feel more connected with the world outside of his or her community.
8) Learning from Strangers
Guides at zoos and aquariums are wonderful. They are not only knowledgeable, love animals but are also great with kids. I love to listen to the conversation an elementary school child has with the guide. It’s often full of questions, answers and even pep talk. These guides make the excursion fun. They also teach children that many people in the world besides their day to day teachers can teach them about the world. They make kids feel comfortable asking questions to people they have just met.
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