Research has shown that pet ownership can be particularly beneficial for children: from teaching them responsibilities and about the cycle of life, to providing companionship and building confidence. Having a pet around the home can make a big impact and theming activities around pets can also be a great way to engage children in the classroom.
We are delighted to have been working with Marc Abraham, TV vet, author, and animal welfare campaigner to develop downloadable resources to use during lesson time. Our ‘Keeping Pets Healthy’ lesson plan will help children aged 4-7 (Reception and KS1) understand the importance of caring for animals and others. To accompany the session, you will also need a set of baby and adult animal images for the first game. Here are some examples of images of adult and baby animals – you might want to use similar ones in your lesson. Individual images are available in the Supporters’ resource section – log in to view and download.
National Pet Month teaching is all about easy to do lesson plans that can be executed during National Pet Month. They are designed for early years and primary school children.
At the heart of every lesson is a guide to being a responsible pet owner and ideas to get the pupils involved in National Pet Month even if you do not wish to fundraise.
Not all the lesson plans need to be done in the classroom, the worksheets and fun activities can be given as homework.
NEW! Keeping Pets Healthy – lesson plan for vets and schools.Art
Look out for National Pet Month’s schools art competitions!
For more information see www.peteducationresources.co.uk
"Placing companion animals in school curricula encourages the moral, spiritual and personal development of each child, bringing social benefits to the school community and enhancing opportunities for learning in various areas of the school curriculum" Rio Declaration of the International Association of Human Animal Interaction, Rio de Janeiro, 12 September 2001.
There has long been an association between man and animals and over the past 30 years, scientists have become increasingly
interested in the notion that "pets are good for you". Research has found that pets do promote a general
feeling of well-being, and it is well known that happy children tend to be healthier children.
All parents and teachers know the enthusiasm and engagement that animals can produce in children. Many school communities are enriched by this knowledge, introducing pets into schools in a number of imaginative and practical ways. Pet clubs, pet assemblies or pet days can help to nurture an understanding of life and the responsibilities of animal welfare in the individual child and the school as a whole. Pets can also provide a fun route into many curriculum areas.
Animals fascinate children. Recent studies have shown that this interest can facilitate learning, have a positive effect on child development and be harnessed to improve human and animal welfare. Many diverse, sometimes surprising benefits have been recorded, both for mainstream children and for those with special needs. The therapeutic and educational benefits have been identified as follows:
School pets have been found to:
Teachers have also found therapeutic benefits for children with special needs. For example:
Pets in schools also have social benefits for the school community:
Our essential tips on incorporating pets into school life responsibly
Any involvement of animals in schools must promote good practice in animal care. It is very important that children are taught correct procedures in handling and caring for animals, and a school pet provides an opportunity to do this.
Children should be encouraged to take a shared responsibility for the care of the animals, under direct supervision. They should only be given tasks appropriate to their ability. Encouragement and praise are important. At all costs, children must be helped not to fail, or feel inadequate in their pet care duties. Standards of care must be high - children learn through observation.
What if the pet is ill?
There must be total commitment to any animal that becomes ill. Sometimes the economic value of animals can be less than the cost of veterinary treatment; but animals should never be euthanased to cut costs. If animals are hospitalised during treatment, frequent progress reports should be given to the children. Children identify very closely with animals and the purpose of pet keeping is to instil a sense of responsibility and teach them how to care.
What if the pet dies?
The death of a pet provides an opportunity to discuss death and dying. Many children will have experienced pet loss and some the loss of relatives. Discussion about pet loss should be encouraged. Do not to refer to euthanasia as "putting to sleep" or "being given an anaesthetic" or children may develop fear of sleep or anaesthesia.
Can pets cause health problems?
Possible hazards include zoonoses, allergies and injuries. These will be minimised through the adoption of a planned pet keeping policy. Long-term studies have shown that the incidence of such problems is very low.
Bites and scratches - sociable animals are not likely to bite or scratch unless frightened or handled roughly. Children should be taught how to gently interact with the animals.
Pets in schools can:
Pets can be used in the study of many areas specified in the National Curriculum scheme of work for Science at Key Stages 1 and 2. For example, sound and hearing in year 1; health and growth, animals and plants in the local environment, and variation in year 2; teeth and eating, and moving and growing in year 3; keeping healthy and life cycles in year 5; interdependence and adaptation and micro-organisms in year 6.
Personal and Social Education
In addition to the moral and spiritual benefits, aspects of human health, safety and behaviour can be discussed in an absorbing, yet non-threatening way, by using pets as a metaphor for humans.
The presence of animals stimulates creative work - such as art, essays, poems, public speaking and drama.
Pets can also encourage teachers to teach animal welfare and conservation, and an education which encourages children to develop consideration for people, animals and the environment. Topics can include any facet of the human-animal bond including caring for others, feelings and emotions. There is an emphasis on taking responsibility for one's actions and children are encouraged to respect others as they develop a better understanding of their needs.
Deciding to get a resident school pet
Caring for animals requires dedication and commitment - this is an important lesson for the children, so careful planning is necessary before introducing resident animals into schools. The cost of keeping the animal needs to be calculated, and a decision made on how the costs will be met.
Local veterinary practices should be contacted for advice on suitable species and should be able to provide or recommend useful resources on their care. Animals should be assessed by a veterinary surgeon for health, temperament and behaviour prior to being introduced to the school.
Careful research must be undertaken into the requirements of any species being considered as a pet. Each school should develop a written policy on animals in school and an individual care plan for each resident animal.
During National Pet Month there are many ways in which schools can get involved. You can invite in an expert or raise money for their local pet charities whilst instilling responsible pet ownership to children for example:
For further guidance please follow this link which will direct you to the event page.