Have you brought your littles to a farm or petting zoo? A visit to the farm has more benefits than you may think!
At a farm, kids will see firsthand where food comes from. Most of our children don’t think twice about taking a bite of their Lunchables. Taking them to a farm opens their awareness about things like agriculture, meat production, dairy production, and the many, many people involved in these processes. Even if they may know that milk comes from a cow, seeing firsthand how that milk gets from cow to glass changes a vague idea into concrete knowledge.
A visit to the farm reduces asthma and allergies. Bacteria found on farms triggers an immune response that results in less respiratory problems. Direct contact with the animals exposes kids to small amounts of bacterias that teach their immune systems not to go into overdrive when they come into contact with these bacterias in the future. In fact, infants who visited the farm showed 52% less risk of developing asthma by age six. Having a pet at home made a difference, but not nearly as much as exposure to a farm.
On a farm, kids will learn about animals experientially and sensorially. Reading about animals in a book or watching a YouTube video can’t hold a candle to the real thing. Observing in life, children can conceptualize a horse’s true height and touch a chicken’s soft, puffy feathers. The sounds and smells of a farm remain in their memories for a lifetime. Actually visiting animals gives kids the chance to observe them interacting with their environment over a span of unplanned time, rather than just a selected clip on screen.
Time spent with animals develops love and compassion. Gently stroking a goat or pig while observing its peaceful temperament lets children connect deeply with the animal. This connection fosters a love for living things. Our children will run the world soon enough, and our world certainly needs more tenderness!
So are you ready for a visit? My favorite farms in the Bay Area to visit with kids are The Little Farm at Tilden Park, in Oakland, and Slide Ranch, in Marin County. And if you want to stay in the City, head to the petting zoo at the San Francisco Zoo!