Keeping an animal as a classroom pet requires some thought and preparation.
Undertaking to provide all of an animal's needs in the classroom is a major commitment and there are many important things to consider, such as:
- the amount of time an animal will be alone
- how holiday care and veterinary treatment will be provided
- who is responsible for ensuring that the animal is always well looked after.
The following points will guide you through your decision.
Looking after your classroom pet
While communal responsibility is philosophically appealing, an animal needs competent and consistent care.
It sends a powerful message when a teacher models responsibility for a vulnerable animal as its primary carer and protector. Animals should never be used to teach (as opposed to model) responsibility to children.
Failing to provide suitable conditions, food, water and security for an animal is no more acceptable in the classroom than in a backyard.
There are many other ways in which children can demonstrate self-governance and commitment, without risks to animal health and welfare.
What type of pet
Consider what type of pet would be best for your classroom. Some animals are more suited to classroom life than others.
Choose a species that is sociable, less likely to need specialised food or housing, and is naturally resilient.
Preparing your classroom
Making a safe and happy home for your pet will avoid health and welfare problems.
A 'holiday home' for pets during school breaks will need to provide all the same creature comforts.
You can read and print out our preparation checklist.