Are classroom pets a good idea?
Happy New Year Teachers!
It is a brand new year and if you are anything like me you are starting to wonder about all the projects and plans you can get started with in the new year.
One topic that seems to be concerning my teacher friends this year is the issue of classroom pets. There are many pros and cons of introducing a pet to the classroom and sometimes the idea of another responsibility to add to the class is just a bit overwhelming. So let’s look at the different aspects of having a classroom pet, and consider which pet might be best for your classroom.
Now this is both a positive and a negative. On the plus side getting a class pet brings a real sense of responsibility to the classroom, children are encouraged to care for and be in charge of the well being of another creature. Particularly younger children, this could be the first time they have been in charge of a living thing. So in this case, the responsibility is a great addition to your class.
However, the responsibility ultimately will fall with you, the teacher; this is where it can become quite a burden. Pets need to be looked after at weekends and holidays, the job will probably fall to you to take care of this pet. One way around this is to assign students a rota to take the pet home and care for it over weekends and holidays. This is a great idea but can be a little difficult to navigate, we all have had those students that can’t be trusted with their own reading book, never mind an actual life. It isn’t fair to leave them out but unfed animals are not helpful either. In cases such as these it might be best to avoid higher maintenance pets such as hamsters or rabbits and opt for stick insects, fish (not tropical) or water snails.
Something that needs to be considered with a classroom pet is the way they will fit into your classroom life. There is no getting away from the fact that some animals are smelly. This will have an effect on your class and the pet will require its own designated area. Other issues to be aware of are allergies and phobias in the children, some are fine as long as they have no contact with the pet but others cannot be in the same room so it is worth having detail discussions before making a decision.
Despite the problems mentioned a classroom pet is a fantastic learning opportunity for the children. Taking care of an animal improves social awareness, compassion and understanding of accountability. All of this before you even get into how it can be the focus of lessons; English activities such as diary writing, descriptive lessons and even fiction stories writing adventures for the pet. In maths you can discuss food quantities and timed activities, whereas science leads nicely to habitats, food sources and life cycles.
Before you decide on pet please discuss it with your management, some schools have strict policies about animals in the classroom and there may also be insurance and budget issues to consider
Types of pets
Lots of animals can make good classroom pets, some ideas include:
Hamsters, rabbits, chicks, insects, frogs, snails, fish, lizards, mice and rats. When making a decision consider the level of care your pet will need and how they will fit into your classroom community.
Check out my store for classroom pet packs to help you set up for your new arrival!
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