Children have a natural attraction to and curiosity about animals, but having a pet in the classroom provides more than just an interesting pastime for students. Working with classroom pets provides kids with valuable social skills. Pet care allows children to develop a sense of responsibility that is so vital to success in life. Children learn that the pet depends on their care; and with the teacher’s supervision, kids will develop consistent habits through their daily pet care responsibilities.
Taking care of pets helps children build self-esteem. Children feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, and can enjoy the pet’s affection in return. The more a child takes part in caring for a pet, the more confidence they develop. Studies conducted by the Waltham Centre have shown that children with pets have higher levels of self-esteem than those without pets.
Caring for pets requires nurturing. Kids learn that pets need to be treated with respect and kindness. Boys especially benefit from the opportunity to develop nurturing skills by caring for a classroom pet. That nurturing can develop into a true friendship between students and pets. Many types of animals love human contact and respond to children with affection, and children can even develop bonds with less responsive pets such as turtles or fish. These social bonds are beneficial to children and can enable them to do better in a school setting.
The Pet Care Trust hopes that by offering grants from $50 to $150 to teachers, children in grammar school classrooms across the country will experience enhanced social development through their interaction with classroom pets. The application process for teachers is simple, and teachers will receive a decision on their application from the program within 7 business days. For more information on Pets in the Classroom or to apply, please visit www.petsintheclassroom.org.