Children naturally love animals, but rarely know how to treat and care for them properly. This is especially true in busy classrooms where it is difficult for teachers to ensure all of the children are treating the class pet well all of the time. Classroom pets in preschool are often fun for the children, and are even great learning opportunities, but it is hard to find a pet who will do well in that kind of environment. There are a few key things to consider before deciding to get a pet for your preschool classroom.
TYPES OF ANIMALS
When considering pets for your preschool classroom it is essential that you consider the type of animal you will be choosing. A nocturnal animal probably would not be very happy in a bright and noisy classroom environment during the day. Also, animals of prey do not do well being handled regularly, much less by children who may not always handle them with the care that they require. Some, such as rabbits, are even prone to heart attacks when feeling stressed.
These are the top 5 classroom pets:
- Bearded Dragon
- Guinea Pig
OVERNIGHT AND WEEKEND CARE
If you are going to have a pet in your preschool classroom, then you really must have a care plan in place. You need to know who will take care of the pet overnight. Not just for overnight though, but for weekends and other times the preschool is closed like for vacation weeks. There should be clear expectations set for whether the person caring for the classroom pet at these times will have to take the pet home with them or will they have to come into the classroom to care for the pet.
As with any pet, it is important to ensure that your classroom pet receives proper medical care. Every type animal comes with its’ own unique needs. It is your job to make sure that you are educated about your particular classroom pets’ veterinary needs, and be prepared for worst case scenarios. If your preschool program cannot afford to add veterinary care bills to the budget, then classroom pets should not be allowed.
Of course, you cannot forget about the health needs of your preschoolers and staff. Allergies and asthma are both very common ailments, and can be triggered by different types of pets. It’s not just the pets themselves, but also their bedding that can exacerbate these conditions. In addition, handling reptiles can lead to salmonella poisoning and mammals can carry diseases, too. On top that, depending on the animal, some pets can be vectors for other pests such as ticks that carry Lyme disease.
BENEFITS OF CLASSROOM PETS
Despite all of the challenges of having a classroom pet, there are also many benefits for your preschoolers. Here are a few of the benefits that your preschoolers could be gaining from having a classroom pet:
As you can see, deciding whether or not a classroom pet is right for your preschool classroom is not the only thing to consider. Make sure that whatever animal you pick will do well and is the safest choice possible.