Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.
Thinking about getting a pet for your classroom? You might be surprised how beneficial having a classroom pet can be! But before you run out to buy the perfect classroom pet, there a few things to think about.
Why Should I Have A Classroom Pet?
There are many benefits to having a classroom pet! According to Pets in the Classroom, pets provide learning opportunities, enrich the classroom experience, improve attendance, teach responsibility, aid in immune system performance, boost student morale, encourage nurturing behavior, build self-esteem, and strengthen social skills. Learn more at petsintheclassroom.org.
Do Your Research
Find out what kind of care the animal requires, what type of enclosure is preferred, feeding requirements, and other needs. Have the animal examined at your local veterinarian office (many vets will conduct an exam on classroom pets free of charge, just call to ask!). Also, research any diseases the animal may transfer to humans.
Keep Parents Informed
Be sure the parents of students in your classroom are aware you have a classroom pet. Some students may have pet allergies and must be seated away from the pet enclosure. It may also be wise to send home literature detailing the benefits of having a pet in the classroom.
Have A Plan For When School Isn’t In Session
Make plans for weekends, holiday breaks, and summer break. Where will the pet go? Who will care for it? Will students take turns taking it home on weekends? What items will need to be sent home with students? You might consider using an online sign-up system like SignUp.com to make these arrangements. It is also a good idea to send home care instructions with students who are taking the animal home.
Here are some of the best classroom pets, according to PetMD.com:
- Bearded Dragon – gentle, can be held occasionally
- Guinea Pigs – minimal care, easily handled, social
- Rabbits – affectionate, social, some can be skittish and become defensive
- Rats – affectionate, intelligent, minimal care
- Fish – visually intriguing, stress and anxiety reliever
Top 10 Classroom Pets from The Biology Corner
You Can Apply For A Grant That Will Help Fund Your Classroom Pet
Petsintheclassroom.org is an educational grant program that provides financial support to teachers to purchase and maintain small animals in the classroom. The program was established by the Pet Care Trust to provide children with an opportunity to interact with pets—an experience that can help to shape their lives for years to come. (Pre-K through 9th grade)
**Please remember, just like a family pet, an animal is a lifelong commitment. Consider adopting rather than purchasing an animal from a pet store. As the primary classroom educator, you are considered the animal’s guardian and caregiver and are responsible for the well-being of the animal, even when you are not in the animal’s presence.