One of the many benefits of classroom pets is that having one teaches children about responsibility. Yes, almost any classroom job can help teach a student about responsibility, but having to care for another living being provides an element of importance and honor that most any student will respond to. As Gail F. Melson, Ph.D. and professor emerita of child development and family studies at Purdue University said, “Pets are like a best friend. They are a strong source of emotional support. Caring for them encourages children to think outside of themselves and become responsible for another being’s welfare.” Whether it is helping with the feedings, filling water bottles, or cleaning cages, these jobs help kids to embrace responsibility as well as learn about proper animal care.
Giving your students jobs is important, but it is also important to monitor all pet care that a child carries out. Students will make mistakes, but being understanding and teaching the proper way to care for the pet will help your students learn responsibility and keep your classroom pet safe. Remember, students are very perceptive and will look to you as a model of responsible pet care. Be sure to set an example of love, compassion, and dependability so they will, in turn, model your example.
If you do not have a classroom pet and are considering getting one, please don’t forget to apply for our Pets in the Classroom grant!