Pets in Early Education Settings
Caring for a pet is a fantastic way for children to experience and develop care and responsibility. There’s also the connection (social and emotional) some children will experience when a pet becomes another friend for them to interact with.
We did a quick survey of some of our Educa early childhood services and asked them the question:
What (if any) pets do children look after in your early childhood setting?
Results: Random sampling of 50 early childhood services.
Fish are the Number One pet in early childhood settings!
Fighting fish were the most popular in the fish category. The flamboyant male fighting fish are visually spectacular with their flaring fins and tails. They are easy care and they can live alone (though they will share with some other species). Fish are known for their calming qualities …they can be mesmerizing for children to watch.
- Fish are known to have a tranquil, calming effect on anyone who watches them glide serenely through the water.
- Generally speaking, fish are easier and less expensive to feed and care for than other pets, however, they do require a proper environment and knowledgeable caretakers.
- Unlike many dogs and other furry and feathered pets, fish don’t develop separation anxiety or destructive behaviors when you leave them alone at home.
- Fish are quiet — you never have to worry about a barking or squawking fish upsetting the neighbors or waking a sleeping baby.
- Fish come in an infinite variety of sizes, shapes and stunning, vibrant colors.
- Fish don’t need to be walked; they don’t require a litter box; and they’ll never leave a surprise for you on your brand new carpet or the afghan your mother-in-law knitted for you last Christmas.
- Fish are very clean pets that don’t need to be groomed or have their teeth brushed.
- Your fish won’t track dirt and mud in from outdoors, or shake litter from his paws all over the house, and he doesn’t shed, slobber or drool.
- A fish aquarium of any size, as long it’s well maintained, can be a beautiful addition to any room in your home.
- Some types of fish interact with their owners, are playful, and can even be trained to do tricks.
Did you know?
Coming in at Number Two were caged birds.
Although, we have to mention that if we included chickens in the caged birds section, they would have snuck into first place!
However, many early childhood settings don’t have the outdoor space to house chickens so we gave them their own category. Many services wouldn’t have counted the native birds that visit their local environment as pets. One Australian preschool did mention how much interest the children had shown in a family of willie wagtails who nested in a tree in their garden.
…and the Number Three pet in early childhood settings were small, furry, squeaking – guinea pigs.
These little cavies need more care than the top 2 pets – but there are bonuses in the interaction stakes!
There are loads of different breeds of guinea pig (check out the skinny pig!). But make sure you check the sex of your guinea pigs unless you want litters of pups. Someone will need to care for the pigs for periods longer than overnight closure but they also can make fun and interesting pets.
Why type of pets do you have in your early childhood setting?
Tell us about them in the comments!