Before bringing a pet into a classroom where s/he will spend a good part of life there, do your research about which pets are the best and which are the worst.
Many children, especially the younger set, will be experiencing being close to animals that are different from the usual cats and dogs. Some children may be fearful, so it’s a good idea to welcome their input.
Consider the amount of care and commitment a particular animal will need. Can it be left alone after school hours until the following morning? What arrangements can be made for pet care over weekends and holidays? Can the pet be a danger to the children?
Of course having a pet in the classroom is a great educational tool. Pets teach children responsibility and commitment while they learn about other living creatures. But it’s important to choose the right classroom pet.
Hamsters, gerbils, canaries, fish are relatively easy to care for, are friendly and don’t bite. In case you’re wondering about fish as pets, research has shown them to be intelligent and responsive to caregivers as well as being beautiful to look at.
Although we love our parrots, they are not good classroom pets. They need lots of human interaction, can be noisy, may be stressed by classroom activity and noise and they may bite. Even smaller parrots can hurt small hands (big hands too).
Reptiles, while interesting, can carry salmonella and can inflict painful bites. Snakes, lizards,large turtles, all require special habitats, all of which can be expensive. A snake’s diet is made up of mice and rats, not especially pleasant for children to see. Small turtles may be considered for the classroom.
Rabbits and guinea pigs need to interact with their humans. They require more care than other pets and unless there is a strong commitment, they are better pets for home.
We all want our children to enjoy the benefits of having a pet, even if it’s only part-time. Please keep in mind both the animals’ needs and the children’s when choosing a classroom pet.