As part of a recent survey conducted by the Pets in the Classroom grant program, teachers across the U.S. and Canada have shared valuable insight into the many benefits that classroom pets can bring to the educational setting. The survey—which the group says was conducted this spring and received 6,700 overwhelmingly positive responses from teachers who have received Pets in the Classroom grants within the past two years—reinforces what teachers have been sharing with the program through thank you notes, letters, photos and stories: these miniature classmates are more than just another teaching tool.
Academics: Seventy percent of teachers incorporate their pet into their classroom curriculum at least one to two times per week. Nearly 50 percent do so every day. And over 60 percent have seen some improvement in students’ academic performance since incorporating the pet into the curriculum.
“It was such a fight to get some of my students to read,” one teacher said, according to Pets in the Classroom. “After getting Pipsqueak, our hamster, they started voluntarily reading to her! It increased their reading stamina as well as their fluency!”
Attendance: Fifty-nine percent of teachers saw an improvement in attendance due to their classroom pet.
“One of my students had very poor attendance from 2nd-4th grade. At open house, her mom explained to me that she has a hard time getting her daughter to come to school. That student was there every day—even when she didn’t feel well—because she didn’t want to miss seeing me and Darwin,” one teacher said, according to Pets in the Classroom. “At the end of 5th grade, this student had missed zero days! Darwin had a huge impact on this!”
Decreased anxiety: Eighty-six percent of teachers saw some decrease in anxiety among students.
“Your grant has contributed so much to our classroom environment. The students have responded to the sound of the water in the fish tank, and it seems to calm them and ease anxiety behaviors,” a special education teacher shared, according to the group.
Empathy/Compassion: An overwhelming 95 percent of teachers saw an increase in empathy and compassion, thanks to a classroom pet.
“My kids are more connected; they care deeply for our Reggie and it has become OK to talk about emotions, needs and wants,” stated one teacher. “They have also learned responsibility, not only for Reggie’s feeding, etc., but also for his need for love, affection, even quiet time.”
Collaboration among students: Ninety-two percent of teachers surveyed saw an improvement in collaboration among students.
Responsibility: Ninety-seven percent of teachers saw an increase in student responsibility.
In addition to these attributes, teachers also indicated that they saw an increase in social skills, leadership, student engagement and self-esteem.
The Pets in the Classroom grant program was established by the Pet Care Trust with the knowledge that classroom pets can be a valuable teaching tool that many teachers do not have access to because of a lack of funding. During the 2017-2018 school year, 24,311 Pets in the Classroom grants were awarded—the largest number of grants awarded in a single year—bringing the total number of grants to over 119,300 since the program’s inception in 2011. With the significant impact that classroom pets are having on students, the Pets in the Classroom grant program is gearing up for another school year of providing funding to PreK – 9th grade teachers across the U.S. and Canada beginning August 1.