Whether you’re a teacher or a parent with a child at school, you may want to explore the option of introducing a classroom pet. Classroom pets can be great way to involve children in a group project, learn about responsibility and work together to care for the animals.
What to consider
Firstly, it’s important to remember that pets need daily care. While there may be someone there during the day, who will care for the pet in the evening, on weekends and holiday time? Will students take turns in taking the pet home? A lot of planning is needed to ensure a system is set up, before the pet arrives. Don’t forget to seek permission from parents and any other decision makers such as other staff.
Choosing a pet
While some pets may require less work than others, there isn’t really such as thing as a low maintenance pet. All pets require care. For example, fish may not require the same level of engagement as other pets but they will still need feeding, regular cleaning of the tank, as well as enrichment in the tank to keep them engaged.
Involve children with the classroom pet
Include all the children with the care of the classroom pet. A roster is a great way to make sure everyone has a turn to feed, clean and monitor the pet. A classroom project about the species will assist children to gain a better understanding of the pet’s natural behaviours. Come up with the name/s of the pet/s as a group. Children will feel included and empowered if they are involved in these important decisions.
Finally, be realistic about what the class can manage. Younger children may struggle to perform some duties such as cleaning. For this reason, an adult should always be leading the care and management but include the class throughout the process. Remember that some children may have fears, allergies or no experience with animals. If possible, invite an animal expert, pet store staff member or vet to speak to the class. This will enable children to learn about the pet before it arrives and help them to feel more comfortable.
Topic: Owning a Pet