Information for Families and Whānau

SPCA’s vision is to provide engaging NZ Curriculum aligned resources for schools. These are designed to encourage exploration and development of knowledge, skills, and understandings needed to create feelings of empathy, compassion, respect and justice for the lives of all living things.

SPCA’s education programme is designed to help teachers integrate Animal Welfare Education into their classroom programme, whilst offering tools and strategies to enhance existing classroom teaching and learning, and fulfil New Zealand Curriculum achievement objectives in all learning areas. This approach is consistent with the New Zealand Curriculum vision of young people as creative, energetic, enterprising young people who actively participate in and contribute to the future well-being of New Zealand (not passive recipients of knowledge).

Animal welfare education is about the fostering of respect, understanding, compassion and responsibility towards animals. It is an exploration of how we share the world with other living beings and the responsibilities we have in ensuring their well being.

Given the prevalence of violence in society today, it is more crucial than ever to instil compassion, empathy and tolerance in young people. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between violent acts towards animals and people. Additional, research in animal welfare education suggests that children’s compassion toward animals is related to their empathy toward humans. 

SPCA’s education programme promotes essential character-building qualities such as empathy, kindness, respect for others and personal responsibility as well as engaging students’ in core curriculum subject learning through real-life meaningful contexts. As children develop empathy (the ability to assume the feelings and perspective of other humans and animals), they begin to understand concepts such as respect, cooperation, sharing, fairness, kindness and compassion.

SPCA’s education resources were designed to integrate into the New Zealand Curriculum by experienced, New Zealand trained teachers. SPCA’s education resources focus on a variety of animal welfare concepts and provide teachers with the tools to incorporate these topics into their daily teaching and learning programmes. The learning experiences allow students to gain knowledge and understanding of animals through interactive, project based learning experiences. 

Great importance is placed on the inquiry process and critical thinking as well as developing leadership skills to put compassion into action. Before their launch, SPCA’s education materials were piloted over 18 months by 22 primary schools and evaluated by New Zealand Council for Educational Research. This approach has enabled SPCA to make informed, evidence based decisions throughout the programme’s development.

The ultimate learning experience occurs when home and school work in partnership - when teaching and learning is supported, reinforced and encouraged at home, connections are more easily made and positive changes can occur. 

Supporting your child’s empathetic development

There is a lot of advice and research out there that suggest family pets are a great way to teach children compassion and responsibility. However, the presence of animals in a home alone does not automatically make children more empathetic. Click on the content below to learn more.


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