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  • Our Catholic Preschool Classroom is Sweeter with a S'more!
Our Catholic Preschool Classroom is Sweeter with a S'more!

Our Catholic Preschool Classroom is Sweeter with a S'more!

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Gerbils, hamsters, birds, rabbits, and fish have called my classroom "home" throughout my 20 years of teaching.

They have been part of our school family, teaching us about the importance of caring for all God's creatures.

After our hamster died last year, I had to find a new pet. My sister, MacKenzie, loves her guinea pig, so I decided to get one for my preschoolers.

Jackpot! The kids and I love S'more! He is sweet and loves to be petted and held.  

We have learned already how to touch him and have sat with him on the circle-time carpet.

Catholic preschoolers play with guinea pig

I look forward to using him in my teaching this year and the enrichment to the classroom he will provide.

He will also provide lots of across-the-curriculum opportunities:

• Religion (learning the importance of caring for God’s creation)

• Math (measuring out the food the guinea pig will eat)

• Science (what does the guinea pig eat and what does he needs) 

• Vocabulary (words we would use to describe our pet)

• Social Studies (where do guinea pigs originally come from)

• Guidance (learning empathy and care)

Catholic preschoolers play with guinea pig

For fellow teachers looking for some support for getting a pet for their classrooms, here are some important points:

1. Pets are a wonderful help for students who struggle with leaving their parents when dropped off at school.

2. Pets help children develop empathy. Pets also increase awareness of the needs and feelings of others. “Being around animals is extremely good for children,” says Dr. Harvey Markovitch, pediatrician, and editor of The Archives of Disease in Childhood.“They’re good for morale, and teach children about relationships and about the needs of another living being. Learning to care for a pet helps them to learn how to care for people."

3. Caring and loving a pet helps promote healthy self-esteem. Shari Young Kuchenbecker, Ph.D., research psychologist at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles says, “The child who cares for a pet knows that what he does matters, and so he’ll want to do more of it. The more successfully he feeds, walks, or emotionally bonds with the pet, the more confident he’ll feel.”

4. Pets teach students that all living things need more than just food and water to survive.

6. Dr. Alan Soward, elementary education science professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, explains that the presence of animals tends to lessen tension in the classroom and a pet increases sensitivity and awareness of the feelings and needs of others - for both animals and humans.

7. Pets also help promote the respect for life. Again Dr. Alan Soward states, “In addition to giving students exposure to animals, classroom pets help instill a sense of responsibility and respect for life.”

Do you have a pet in your classroom or educational setting? How does it help you and your students/clients?

Catholic preschooler holds guinea pig

Catholic preschooler holds guinea pig

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