On the Topic of a Furry FriendPosted December 15, 2014
By Sarah Kern
I must preface this blog by saying I am an animal lover. If my husband had a nickel for every time I asked him for a new dog or called him from a pet adoption event, he’d be a rich man. You may have noticed that I’m not alone in this at All Seasons. We are all animal lovers. After our beloved Miss Chick passed in November of last year, many tears were shed. You also may have noticed her absence was filled with not one, but two chickens.
We lost our beloved Rex the day after the last day of school in June. Rex had been ill for months, but he seemingly held on so our students wouldn’t have to grieve the loss of another pet before the year’s end. And, perhaps you’ve heard, his absence was filled with not one, but two guinea pigs. Now the Winter Room has almost as many pets as it does toddlers. But there is a method to our madness!
Every preschool teacher has certain standards that she holds highest in her classroom. For me, what’s most important is that my students are nurturing and kind. Beyond modeling the kind of behavior I expect from my students and encouraging caring interactions between children, having pets provides another way to grow these skills.
Research shows that having classroom pets encourages children to be nurturing. With an animal, there tends to be a swift natural consequence for behavior that is too rough, startling or unkind. A pet might run away, hide, or even nip when threatened. Children quickly learn that if they want to spend time with a pet, they must be careful and they must be kind. Isn’t that the message we want them to learn about people, too?
One of my favorite things I read about the benefits of pets in a classroom is that while having a pet benefits all children, it is especially important to young boys, who often don’t have the chance to practice the nurturing skills girls do in our society.
In addition, having a pet teaches responsibility. We have already talked about how important it is that we feed and water the guinea pigs and keep their home safe and clean. Judging by how well the toddlers remember to feed our Betta and Danio fish, I don’t think our piggies will be neglected.
There’s one more awesome benefit to having pets in the classroom. Research show that pets and humans can actually become friends. Guinea pigs love human contact, and these interactions can lead to deep bonds. Human-animal friendships strengthen social skills and increase self-esteem in young children.
So stop by and visit our new friends in the Winter Room! I think you’ll like them.
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- ,social skills