Pets in the Classroom

23 Feb

A few days ago, I was lying on my parents’ couch with my two dogs and thinking about how much happier I feel when I am around my dogs.  I live an hour away from my parents and regularly visit my family and see my dogs.  This thought lead me to thinking of the benefits of having pets in the classroom.  Obviously, dogs would not be the best option for a classroom pet but there are many great options such as fish, turtles, or hamsters. I was lucky enough to have classroom pets in grades 2 and 3 (two hamsters) and grade 5 (a turtle).  However, I have not seen any pets in the classroom since entering the Faculty of Education and I have visited many schools.  I imagine many schools can no longer have pets because of allergies but I truly believe there are many benefits to having pets in the classroom.

I decided to do some quick Google searches about the pros and cons of pets in the classroom.  I found lots of information to support having pets in the classroom and very little against having animals in the classroom. I came across a resource guide created by a professor in the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan.  She claims that there are many benefits of having pets in the classroom but the primary reason is to teach responsibility.  I agree with her, pets require a great deal of care, love, and commitment.   In the grades in which my class had pets we each had weekly duties in regards to caring for our pets.  We had to give them fresh food and water, play with them, and clean the cages.  My classmates and I looked forward to our week of caring for the pets and spent most of our free time watching our pets with fascination.  I experienced firsthand the excitements kids can feel when they become responsible for a pet.  Therefore, I feel that pets are a very effective way to teach responsibility. The professor also shares two more ways in which classroom pets are positive – they promote empathy and increase children’s exposure to nature.  These ideas are further supported in this essay, written by a University of Calgary student. A recent focus of education is to teach sustainability and an appreciation for nature.  I cannot think of a better way to teach this then to bring animals into the classroom.  Students can begin to build relationships with animals and therefore want to keep them happy and healthy.  There are many benefits of pets in the classroom, what are some that you can think of?

Lastly, I will share some of the cons of pets in the classroom.  First, as I mentioned above, many students have allergies to different types of animals. The teacher would need to consider everyone’s allergies and the possibility of new students (and their possible allergies) joining the classroom.  Second, pets add an extra cost for the teacher since they will need to purchase food, shelter, and accessories (toys, bowls, etc.).  Third, the teacher would need to find a place for the pet to live during the school’s holidays.   My school teachers always sent home a letter asking if any families were interested in caring for the pets.  Luckily, my teachers were always able to find a willing family.  However, if they did not then they would need to care for the pets.
There are many pros and cons to having pets in the classroom but I believe they are worth considering.

cuddling with my dogs on the couch


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5 Responses to “Pets in the Classroom”

  1. Patricia Cone February 23, 2011 at 3:57 PM #

    This blog was well-researched and well-written. I agree with your conclusions.

  2. Danielle Degelman February 26, 2011 at 11:35 AM #

    Aww, your dogs are so cute! When I was in grade two, we had two snakes, two cockatiels, two turtles, a hamster, and a tank of fish in our classroom!! My teacher was obviously a huge animal-lover and she incorporated pets and animals in her teaching whenever she could. This helped me remember a lot of the information and it made learning more fun! My family never had animals in our own home at this time, and I had always wanted a pet. However, I felt like I had MANY of my own pets in grade two, and I learned so much about responsibility.

    • mdhorvath February 27, 2011 at 10:06 AM #

      Thank you Danielle! You’re so lucky you were able to have all those pets in the classroom, that would’ve been lots of fun and responsibility! Do you know if there were any problems with allergies or finding a home for the animals over holidays?

  3. rvpets April 11, 2011 at 10:15 PM #

    You should check out the website http://www.PetsintheClassroom.org. It is a grant program called Pets in the Classroom that provides up to $150 to K-6th grade teachers for the purpose of purchasing a classroom pet and/or pet supplies. It’s really easy to apply for and you hear back within a week as to if you will receive it. The website also has some great information on why having a pet in the classroom is so beneficial.

    • mdhorvath April 11, 2011 at 11:20 PM #

      Thank you – I’ll look into it!

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