It’s long been known that having animals around lowers blood pressure and has a calming effect on adults. But, did you know that there have been numerous studies showing the positive effect of pets in the classroom? Whether it’s Math (Estimating the length of Sochi in centimeters), Geography (Where did Ted come from?), Science (natural habitats), or Grammar (What adjectives would you use to describe Isabo?), a student’s approach to learning becomes more personal when related to the real world.
I believe in the powerful effect animals have on my students. In 4B, we have “The Boys” which are two Russian dwarf hamsters. “Sochi” was named after the city in Russia where the 2014 Olympics were held and Ted Ligety, “Teddy”, was one of the gold medalist the class did research on. These two stay in our classroom during the week and go home with a different student each weekend. We also have my dog, Isabo, who comes on Friday mornings to be a reading buddy when the class has earned enough behavior points. Jacara reported, “I think we try harder to behave when we know that Isabo can come on Friday.”
Observing and caring for these animals encourages nurturing, responsibility, and builds self-esteem. The respect and compassion that is required in the care of our animals also builds a fascination of them and engages curious young minds. I love the enthusiasm our animals bring out in my students and in turn the animals love the attention!