Pets in the classroom promote learning. A whopping 99 percent of teachers asked, say that having a pet in the classroom is a positive experience – leading to higher attendance rates, reduced student anxiety and, remarkably, more engagement in all areas of the classroom.
Public school classrooms may not seem like the friendliest habitat for a pet – they are some of the busiest, noisiest places where children congregate.
A survey of more than 1100 teachers found that classroom pets also lead to an increase in empathy and compassion. Interaction with animals is an essential part of learning for children.
However, as soon as you decide to have a class pet, expect the questions to start. What sort of pet should you choose? Who watches the pet on weekends? Is the pet age appropriate for your class?
With so many questions, it can seem overwhelming to approach acquiring a classroom pet. Here are some ideas on how to best answer those questions.
Why Pet Choice Matters
Picking the right animal for your classroom is half the battle to finding a great pet. Knowing how to help your students learn about that animal is the other half.
Paola Cuevas Morena, a veterinarian with Hepper.com, had some great points about approaching the classroom pet scenario. When choosing a classroom pet, sometimes it’s best to pick the easiest pet to take care of. While Morena points out that hamsters are probably the easiest to care for outside of fish, it doesn’t mean they don’t need proper maintenance. “They will all need daily feeding, clean drinking water always available, cleaning of their environment, dealing with their droppings, and very important physical and mental stimulation.”
- Hamster: These adorable little rodents are very popular as pets because they are cute, cuddly, and relatively easy to care for. Food, water, clean bedding, and an exercise wheel are all it takes to make these tiny friends happy.
- Fish: These aquatic pets come in wide varieties and are diverse creatures that make an excellent pet for any classroom. From colorful guppies to pretty betas, fish is an easy pick for a great classroom pet.
- Turtle: These water-loving creatures are perfect pets if you pick a docile sort. Snapping turtles, including the alligator snapping turtle, would not make a good pet. These aggressive species can easily injure little fingers.
- Rabbit: These cuddly animals are adorable but require special care. Regular nail trimming and bedding changes are essential for proper care. Given these, rabbits will make a wonderful addition to any classroom.
You might consider these unique pets if you’re looking for a more exotic pet for your classroom.
- Chinchilla: These cute, affectionate animals are low-maintenance and easy to care for. Their bathing, sleeping, eating, and playing routines are so easy that caring for this pet is a breeze.
- Mouse: Deciding to get a tame mouse is usually an easy one to make. They are on your list, or they aren’t. There’s not usually a middle ground, especially as they need looking after. They can make great pets for older children interested in caring for or training a mouse.
- Bearded Dragon: These beauties are fun to have as a pet. They are usually docile and become moreso as they age. Like all lizards, they need some special provisions. Once in place, however, these pets can offer a great learning experience for children.
- Parakeet: While birds are not necessarily unique, caring for a parakeet can provide an exciting and varied learning experience. Friendly with humans, one of these beautiful birds will make an excellent pet for your classroom.
Tips for Matching Your Students to a Great Classroom Pet
Finding the perfect pet for your classroom can be challenging on a good day. Worrying over which pet your students will bond best with can impact the whole experience.
If you’re sure you want to provide a class pet for your students to learn about and enjoy, there are ways to help you choose which pet is best. Considering different aspects of your class can help narrow down your choices until you find the perfect fit. Here are some of those things to consider.
- Age: Considering the age range of your students is one of the first steps to picking a class pet. A hamster may not be a good pet if your students are young. Morena also makes a valid point about these cute creatures. “Something very important to consider is that hamsters are nocturnal animals and should be allowed to sleep undisturbed during the day.”
- Space: If overcrowding is a problem in your classroom, finding a pet that doesn’t need much space is essential. In this instance, a chinchilla might not work. They are animals that need room to roam at least once a day.
- Noise: Nocturnal animals are most active at night and must sleep during the day. A noisy classroom doesn’t provide much opportunity for hamsters or chinchillas to rest. This issue might rule them out as good options for a classroom pet.
Choosing a classroom pet can seem daunting when you first contemplate the idea. With a little genuine research and apt knowledge of your students and classroom, picking the right pet can be fun. Now the only question left to ponder, is what will your classroom pick for their new pet's name?
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.