As emotional behavioral disorders become more prevalent throughout the school-age population, intervention during the early childhood ages is becoming key. Considering that social emotional delays are risk factors for emotional behavioral disorders and the evidence of social-emotional health in the early years leading to emotional well-being in adolescent and adult years, there is a significant need for social and emotional health in early childhood. Animal-assisted activities are ways to teach concepts such as selfawareness, self-regulation, social engagement, emotional understanding, and empathy to children in primary school. In this case study, four 6 and 7 year old children participated in animal-assisted activities with domestic farm animals. Child self-reports (Bryant Index of Empathy), parent-reports (Griffeth Empathy Measure), and behavioral observations (Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales) were all used to measure the change in empathy, social interaction, and social cooperation over the five sessions. Over the course of five one-hour sessions with farm animals, children showed an increase in empathy, social interaction, and social cooperation. This case study demonstrates the impact that animal-assisted activities can have on young children. Future research should investigate the impact of animal-assisted activities on larger, more diverse groups of young children.
Mason N McLary
|Publisher||University of Minnesota Duluth|
|Location of Publication||Duluth, Minnesota|
|Department||Education and Human Service Professions|
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