With the second semester of school approaching, teachers are looking for new ways to bring excitement to the classroom as students return from break. The Pets in the Classroom grant program is prepared to help teachers provide an important tool that can increase student engagement while also providing educational, social and emotional benefits: classroom pets.
The Pet Care Trust's Pets in the Classroom grant program provides grants to pre-Kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers in both private and public schools for the purpose of purchasing and maintaining classroom pets. Classroom animals are wonderful resources for teachers that, when incorporated into lesson plans, can make learning fun in any subject.
For example, Mr. Powell, a first grade teacher at Weaverville Primary School in Weaverville, Pa., created a classroom project that involved writing persuasive papers, doing research and more in order to obtain a classroom pet. "The benefits to this is that the students are engaged, excited and that they can see actual real world results from the work that they are doing. We are able to use this to academically work on writing, science, math and social skills. We have had to talk about how to get our point across to others and how we should respond and be respectful and polite when people help us. Students are having conversations, taking notes and doing research that might not have happened without this project. It has built up their confidence and creativity within themselves ... students that are often quite and a little withdrawn in class have been more outspoken."
And the benefits don't occur only from academic projects. Cynthia Hansford, fourth-grade teacher at Gwendolyn Woolley Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nev., stated, "I had a great classroom experience with the pets. My class really enjoyed it and it also helped them academically. They did research to learn more about our pets, which led to them wanting to learn more about other animals. What I thought was the most amazing wasn't so much the academics. My kids were excited about school and the pets. They told their parents, their friends and their siblings. Everyday after school I had people in my room talking about, learning about and appreciating an animal most of them never had any experience with."
Classroom pets not only provide excitement in the classroom, but they also benefit students by teaching them responsible, long-term pet care at an early age and providing the psychological and developmental benefits associated with the human-animal bond. Studies have shown that caring for pets has a positive effect on children, improving school attendance and teaching children responsibility, as well as encouraging nurturing and building self-esteem.
Many school teachers have very limited resources for the support of classroom animals, and because the Pet Care Trust believes in the value of classroom pets, it began supporting teachers with this educational grants program in 2010. The grant program has awarded over 50,000 grants to teachers, with over 13,400 of them being awarded this school year. This equates to over 2.5 million kids who have been given the opportunity to have a better school experience through the Pets in the Classroom grant program.
For more information on the Pets in the Classroom grant program, visit www.PetsintheClassroom.org.