Animals in the classroom help students with learning in many different ways. Not only do children learn the responsibility of caring for the animal, and have the chance to observe and interact with class pets, the animals also help students relax and focus on schoolwork.
At Fairview/Miss Jewell School, teachers Betsy Orr and Amy Carlson applied for grants through Copperas Cove’s Pet Supplies Plus, to have small animals be classroom pets. The program established by the Pet Care Trust is called Pets in the Classroom.
Not many students have a pet at home. In Orr’s fifth grade reading class, only about 30 percent of the students have any experience with pets.
“We have so many students that are not able to have pets at home, and I wanted to give them that opportunity here in the classroom,” Orr said. “I am hoping that the docile behavior of Thelma and Louise, the guinea pigs, will help students to relax and focus on their assignments.”
Third grade teacher Carlson thought that having a classroom pet would help her students build a sense of responsibility.
“I chose a guinea pig because I was familiar with them. I already knew how to care for them. Guinea pigs are docile animals. They enjoy being held and cuddled,” Carlson said “My students have enjoyed having them. One student brought them in carrots for their Valentine’s Day present. They are excited to watch them grow.”