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Pets in the Homeschool

If you are like me and have animal loving kids, you may be thinking about getting a pet for the homeschool classroom.  I personally think that it’s a great idea!  Pets can provide so many opportunities for learning, as well as contributing to the overall development of children.

-Having a pet in the homeschool classroom is a great opportunity to learn all about whatever animal you choose.  Not only can you learn things like the history and proper care for the animal, but you can also use it as a launching pad to learn about where the animal comes from as well.

-Classroom pets are a great way to teach responsibility.  Depending on the children’s ages, they can help out by being responsible for things like changing the food, water, or even the cage.

-A great way for children to practice reading out loud is to have them read to their pet.  Children tend to lose the apprehensiveness they may feel when reading to their parent or sibling.

-A pet can also serve as a subject of other things like having the children write a story about their pet, or having them list words to describe it.

Depending on your situation, some animals that (in my opinion) can make great pets for kids are a dog or cat (had to start with the obvious), fancy rats (they are actually quite clean & fun), a leopard gecko (quiet & has the “cool” lizard factor), guinea pigs (fun & cuddly), or a betta fish (quiet & serene).  Of course there are others, but they are the animals I would look into first.  Just remember getting a new pet takes commitment, so please research your selection thoroughly.

Some of you may not be ready to make a long term commitment to a new pet, but keep in mind, there are options out there other than the typical gerbil, lizard, frog type.  If you like the idea of having a pet, but want to test the waters first, try something like raising caterpillars, earthworms, or ants!

If you are thinking about getting homeschool room pet, I hope you will be able to find something that is a good fit for your home, and can teach your child the joy of caring for a pet.

 

Jules lives in southeast Virginia with her amazing husband and 2 awesome children.  She is a Christian, and loves her camera, coffee, and her Macbook. She and her family can frequently be found at their favorite place, Williamsburg, Va.  Jules can also be found blogging at Mommy Ramblings, or on her twitter and facebook pages.


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Comments

  1. We just got new pets for our school room…..frogs. They live in water and you only have to feed them once per week, easy care is nice. We have laughed often at them and it really has added a fun element to our room.

    Cha Cha

    • Buffy summers says:

      We are raising tadpoles at the moment over at home school mum. We do it every year and it’s fantastic watching them grow and develop. We have two fish tanks, sea monkeys now, and next week we have silkworms and stick insects arriving

  2. We had a hermit crab in our homeschool classroom for 3 years! She passed away (we totally had a funeral) last spring. This year we are getting a rabbit and guinea pig! (Daddy is building a window hutch so that they are housed outside our schoolroom window – all we have to do is open the window to get to them!) And, the kids don’t know it yet, this winter we are getting a dairy goat! Whoot!

    • OK, you have to explain the window hutch – this sounds great!!!

      • It’s a hutch that hooks on or has long legs outside a window. (My sister raised rock-doves this way while we were growing up). Ours is under construction right now and will hook to the outside of our house. We’ll take the screen off the window of our school room so that we can open the window and open the door to the cage from inside, while the cage is on the outside. My hubby designed a metal tray underneath the hutch (the hutch is similar to this but the size of our window: http://survivalfarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/rabbit_hutch.jpg?w=150&h=150) and the tray it is slightly conical with as hole in the middle and empties into a bucket underneath that. Then we can empty the bucket into our garden or compost pile. It will take some hardware mounted right to the house.

  3. perfect timing for this article. we just got an aquarium set up in our homeschool classroom and i was having second thoughts about it. now i’m excited again about what they can learn with a “pet” in their care. thanks!

    • Aquariums are wonderful resources, not only for the caring of a pet, but also biological and chemical processes. Look into The Nitrogen Cycle (or you will lose your beloved fishies in week 2) and test for nitrates, nitrites, ammonium and pH. It is a wonderful introduction into basic organic chemistry.

      If you have any live-bearers (guppies, mollies) you may be rewarded with tiny little offspring, giving you an opportunity to see the entire process (mating, gestation & birth). Additionally, there are opportunities to teach genetics if you have the rare chance of interbreeding between species.

  4. I love that you wrote on this concept. We want to move forward and bring a pet into our home but do we wait and get a dog when my two year old and seven month old can truly participate in the caring of that pet or do we get a fish, for example, something they can enjoy and observe for a few years? Or both! Ha! Thanks for posting on this topic!!

  5. We have 4 fish and a dog. I never have my kids write about them, so thanks for the idea :)

  6. Brenda Marie says:

    We actually have a small zoo: 2 cats, 2 guinea pigs a mouse, a beta fish and a hermit crab but we love it :)

  7. We have three dogs, but the boys want to get a classroom pet that belongs to them, not the family. Their words, lol. We did the fish thing. Started with some gold fish. But that was too traumatic when they passed. Even though we tried to explain to them to begin with that they didn’t have long life spans. Then we tried a Beta…that worked for a little while, then we had an over-eating incident (well meaning 4yo got a hold of the food jar) and decided that fish weren’t for us, lol. The hubs had actually mentioned like a hamster or guinea pig recently, so that might be something we revisit soon. :)

    Katie
    Waiting for someone to unscramble the word “homeschool” so that it means we actually get to spend some time at home!

  8. We have a guinea pig and a dog. Neither reside in our class…but visit us through out the day wherever we are in our home. The children love having them…and it’s amazing watching them grow as they take care of them!!!! Thanks for this great post!

  9. We have a betta. One we had for three years and traveled with us! We also lived in the country so we had all sorts of farm animals. Nature is the best teacher. Life and death are all part of the scene . I loved spring birthing. goats and rabbits! Also the original egg hunt for chicken or duck eggs.
    I think it should be part of the “lesson” that pets or farm these creatures are possible food and as with dogs security. (exploring other culture would also call some pets food, guinea pigs for example)
    It definately teaches stewardship and caring.

  10. How about a Zoo in the homeschool? We have 2 dogs, 1 cat, 5 snakes, 1 Guinea Pig and a rat breeding operation to feed the snakes. We have about 70 live rats and about 30 frozen in my freezer. This is what happens when you encourage pets in the homeschool. I’m just saying!! :)p

  11. We rescued our scruffy, stray dog shadow 2 years ago. My son, age 8, often writes about Shadow in his journal. Shadow is an easy topic as the children spend time with him every day. Feeding Shadow is part of my son’s “morning jobs” as he prepares for his homeschool day.

    For his birthday my son asked for a fish pond for our backyard. We turned it into an entire homeschool study, including research field trips, lists with cost and of course math to add all of these estimated costs. Setting-up the pond was quite easy and now he is responsible for caring for the fish. He’s actually tamed them. They come to the top of the water when he comes around and they even allow him to pet them. :)

    Nothing can compare to “real-world” learning! I encourage everyone to try a backyard pond. It was easy and inexpensive.
    http://waddleeahchaa.com/2011/07/19/10-easy-steps-to-create-a-simple-backyard-pond-with-children/

    I have an enormous fear of rodents, so that last post might just give me nightmares! Yikes!

  12. Animal are an integral part of our homeschool.

    We have 6 tanks each with their own biosphere. Two desert tanks; one reptilian with a bearded dragon and one rodentena, with gerbils. Two aquatic tanks with several differing species of fish: one a breeding/growing tank with the small community fish, and one with the more aggressive species of community fish. We have a semi-aquatic tank with our amphibians; fire-bellied toad and red eared slider turtle and lastly a hospital tank for our injured/sick fish.

    In addition, we have 4 cats and 3 horses ALL of which have been rescues. As a matter of fact, all of our pets have been rescues, aside from the fish, an important lesson in responsibility and compassion.

    It is amazing how many lessons can be drawn from habitat maintenance, feeding, breeding, compatibility, and nurturing of animals. Then there are the three big scientific principals (biology, chemistry and physics) that are an integral part of the life cycles of these animals.

    If anyone would like lesson ideas based upon animal care/pets, please feel free to message me for more information.

  13. Rosemary, it sounds like a paradise for kids over at your house :)
    Ours are all rescues too … sadly in the last year we have lost two of our cats, one to old age (20) and one to kidney failure. But we have a huge dog, she is a cross Pyrenees/Bernese and looks like Nan from Peter Pan, she is now 12, deaf and makes me nervous every time i walk into the room (dreading the day) We have two cats, a rabbit, and two fish tanks … and i vacuum ALL day ;)

    great post Jules xxx

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