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Teaching Strategies: Pets Can Help Kids Learn

Janelle Cox

A great way for children to continue learning outside of the classroom is by involving the family pet. Pets are said to have many benefits on children’s academic success – they help students be more motivated to do well, and bring about an improved behavior. If a child doesn’t have a family pet, then a neighbor’s pet, or even one from your local shelter, will give the same benefits. Finding ways to incorporate pet-related teaching strategies outside of the classroom can be the secret to getting children to enjoy learning when they’re not in the classroom. Here are a few teaching strategies involving pets that can help children continue learning even when they’re not in school.

Teaching Strategies: Reading to Rover

Pets are much more than just a furry friend that will do anything for a treat. They’re actually really good listeners (especially dogs). If you have any students who are reluctant readers and need a confidence boost, then try encouraging them to read to an animal. Animals are non-judgmental and will listen contently, which is a great way to raise a student’s confidence. In fact, a study from the University of California confirmed that reading to a pet can actually improve a child’s reading skills. If you know a student who doesn’t have a pet, then direct them to their local library so they can enroll in a “Reading to Rover”-type program where they can practice reading to their favorite four-legged friend. Not only will the child benefit from this amazing experience, but the animal will, too.

Pets Make Exercise and Math More Fun

Walking the family pet is a great way for children to sneak in some learning without them even realizing it. The benefit of walking an animal is that they’re getting exercise as well as using their math skills. However, in order for children to reap the benefits of using their math skills, they must wear a pedometer or download an app like Map My Walk. This will help them to keep track of their steps while they’re walking. Children can use these devices to challenge themselves to take more steps on their pedometer, walk different routes, keep track of how far they have gone, or track what route that they have taken. Math would be intertwined in every step that they take. You can go even further and give children weekly challenges, such as figuring out how many steps their pet has taken. Walking is a physical exercise that benefits both the child and the pet. Plus, by adding the element of technology, you’re making walking the family pet much more enjoyable.

Learning the Value of Money Through Pets

Pets can help teach children the value of money. They can learn this valuable skill by petsitting, pet walking, or creating a pet-washing business. By creating their own pet business, children will learn lessons on responsibility, managing money, work ethic, goal setting, and appreciation for money, and so much more. Think of all of the things they will learn if they had a business partner too. Teachers and parents can work closely with the child to see how much they are earning, what they are saving, and what amount of money they can donate to charity. Children will be using all of their math skills that they have learned in school, as well as a few new skills that they learned on the job. Good money managing skills are a tool that children can always use throughout their lives.

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Using Their Imagination for Pets

Pets can help children use their imagination. A great way that children can use their imagination to benefit their pet is to make their pet a toy. All they have to do is search around the house for empty cereal boxes, milk jug containers, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, or anything that they can find. They can add rice to milk jugs to make them shake to get their pets attention, or add feathers to a long stick for cats to pounce on. Once they collect their supplies and create their pet toys, they can donate them to their local pet shelter or sell them at a garage sale. This kind of hands-on activity is great for engaging the child’s brain, because they’re learning through their senses by touching, creating, and manipulating things.

In short, research has found that children who have pets have fewer learning problems, are more obedient, are less moody, and have fewer behavior problems. So, it’s easy to conclude that pets are good for children.

Do you have any tips or suggestions to share about this topic? Please feel free to share your teaching strategies with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com