As well as all the fun elements associated with owning a pet, pets can bring many educational benefits.
Owning a pet can teach a child about the responsibilities of life and mutual trust. By feeding and exercising a pet, children can also develop an understanding of daily care. Children with learning difficulties can also benefit from interaction with pets. One study found that the presence of a dog helped to channel the children's attention and responsiveness towards the therapist's suggestion-in effect, the dog helped increase the attention span of the children.
Companion animals are natural teachers. They help people of all ages learn about responsibility, loyalty, empathy, sharing, and unconditional love-qualities particularly essential to a child's healthy development.
Through helping to care for a pet, children also learn to care for their fellow human beings. There is an established link between how people treat animals and how they treat each other. Kindness to animals is a lesson that benefits people, too.
Someone once said, "You cannot have a friend, until you learn to first be a friend." Good friendships are part of any wholesome community. Schools provide a real and positive secondary family setting for many. Teachers, students, staff and administrators interact developing meaningful personal relationships. Valuable lessons in modeling and mentoring occur. True caring relationships with real trust develop on very personal levels. The chemistry among individuals who spend a great deal of quality time together in the schoolhouse is often very positive. Friendships are made in school that for lifetimes. Dogs can be a meaningful part of this overall friendship equation, as children and dogs are often inseparable.
A classroom dog is an innovative teaching tool used by social workers, therapists, education and special needs teachers working with children and young adults with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities. The dogs help them teach basic concepts like "up," "under," "down." Children with histories of sexual or physical abuse often need a catalyst to prompt disclosure. A classroom therapy dog, non-judgmental and unconditionally loving, can provide the help necessary to identify children in crisis.
Animals in the classroom are amazing. They can bring a renewed inspiration and excitement into the learning process. They can empower our students. Dogs help develop self-esteem, responsibility, motivation, self-discipline and communication skills.