Staying Safe Around Animals
Evaluate the farm setup
A working farm that actively solicits visits from schools and families most likely has a dedicated visitor area where children may safely interact with animals. Even so, visit the venue ahead of time, and evaluate the setting against the backdrop of the tempers in your travel party. While compliant children will most likely do well in all settings, highly spirited toddlers may get in harm’s way when visiting a farm that caters primarily to kindergarten aged children.
Consider the program
Farm activities may include petting the animals, visiting the baby lambs (if in season), or practicing some hands-on farming like picking vegetables or raking a grassy area. Hands-on activities are boredom busters; boredom—as you know—leads to toddlers looking for other things to do, which may get them in trouble. The more activities that are available, the better the outing is likely to go.
Practice animal safety
Any animal can bite. Ensure maximum adult supervision by having a two to one ratio, assigning one adult to every two children. Prepare the children by explaining that they must never sneak up on an animal or touch its face. Encourage petting an animal’s back. Discourage chasing an animal that runs away or trying to reach one that is trying to get out of reach by hiding underneath a cart or other item.
Practice good hygiene
A visit to the farm will get the children messy, but take care that they wash their hands after touching the animals, or items the animals may have licked or chewed. As outlined by the National Network for Child Care, it is easy to pick up an intestinal virus or other bug when overlooking proper hygiene.