Living in New York City has its fair share of perks, but would you think to list “access to nature” as one of them? Probably not.

At The Art Farm NYC, however, we firmly believe that city life and access to nature shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. This is one of the reasons why nature and science are the foundation of our children’s educational center. It’s not enough for our children to navigate city street, public transit, and art museums — they need nature!

Today, we want to discuss the scientifically corroborated benefits of introducing children to animals. Far beyond meeting cute and cuddly creatures, interacting with animals helps children to develop critical socioemotional skills.

1. Caring For Animals Bolsters Empathy

When kids care for animals, they exercise the “empathy” muscles of their brain. While we’re all hard-wired to be empathetic, it takes activation of this area of the brain during childhood to encourage this behavior. When a child learns to care for an animal — to feed it, to give it shelter, to handle it carefully — they learn a transferable skill: to help.

Far beyond animals, the idea that an individual can better the life of someone else is a critical concept of development. Children to care for animals at a young age are far more likely to see themselves as helpers and to advocate for the needs of others.

2. Animal Care Teaches “The Platinum Rule”

Chances are we heard “The Golden Rule” preached when we were children: “treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Nowadays, however, we tend to teach “The Platinum Rule” or the idea that we should “treat others the way they want to be treated.”

There’s no better way to teach this than with animals. While a child might think of a lollipop as the greatest snack on Earth, would a bunny? Of course not. Instead, we can teach children that bunnies prefer carrots instead and see that as a treat. Likewise, certain animals prefer to be handled, pet, and cuddled, while other animals need isolation and gentleness. This directly connects to humans, and caring for animals helps children to realize this.

3. Animal Care Breeds Responsibility

Finally, having hands-on experiences with animals allows children to exercise responsibility. At The Art Farm NYC, for instance, our animal handlers give kids explicit tasks and responsibilities as it relates to the animals. They help to maintain their habitats, to give the animals the proper food, and to follow instructions for safe handling.

This is the same reasoning behind getting a family pet — when a child has a dog or cat to call his or her own, they’re able to practice time management, empathy, responsibility, and patience.

Our Classes For Kids In NYC

At The Art Farm NYC, located right on the Upper East Side, our educational center and classes for kids give children the opportunity to care for animals.

We have a petting zoo on-site that families can visit, and we have a range of classes for kids that each involve animals. Check out these animal-based classes for kids at The Art Farm NYC:

We also offer drop-in passes for The Art Farm NYC if your schedule is a bit too busy for semester-long classes. Be sure to contact us today to figure out the best option for your family.

Give your family a break from the city. Register for classes for kids today at The Art Farm NYC!