Have you wondered about the benefits of adding a pet to their classroom? Will it really stimulate learning? Do they really provide emotional and developmental benefits? Studies of the bond between human and animals show that they do.
Of course, most children will get excited by a live creature in a classroom and will naturally gravitate towards it because of their curiosity. But studies have shown that the bond between children and pets goes far beyond curiosity. In one specific study completed in 1998 on the emotional bond between children and pets, Sandra L. Triebenbacher concluded that “The benefits of pet ownership and attachment to animals include minimizing emotional trauma, helping to alleviate some emotional problems as well as fear and loneliness, to lessen anxiety during times of stress, to promote good mental and physical health for both children and adults, and provide noncontingent unconditional love and opportunities for affection.”
The study also showed that children express their love to animals through touch and through caring for them through responsibilities likes feeding them. Craig Naherniak concluded in his 1995 paper on classroom animals, “If there is one thing that is most important for children to realize, it is that they share a world with other beings who have needs similar but not identical to theirs. This understanding helps to develop the child’s confidence, empathy and respect for others.” Having a pet in the classroom allows teachers to provide children with ways to develop these valuable skills.