Skills for life – animals and pets in schools

For many children, having a pet is the first time they begin to take care of another living being and to understand what it needs to be able to thrive and grow and be healthy.

The life skills that come with looking after animals are not only enriching but show children their role in caring for others, developing empathy and responsibility in ensuring the pet’s needs are met. These skills develop as they grow themselves and become more able to notice how others are feeling and to be responsive, caring, and thoughtful.

Looking after animals can teach children about routine and time and for many, having a structure and timetable for the day can give them a sense of safety, reassurance, and boundary. Children love to know what is happening, at what time, and to be given the chance to take responsibility for something that matters.

Feeling that they are trusted is another important element of having the opportunity to care for animals in schools or pets at home. Feeling trusted builds our self-esteem, sense of self-worth, and purpose so that we feel valued, noticed, and can then have pride in ourselves. When children feel valued and trusted they can almost be seen to have grown in inches as they hold their pride and sense of purpose in the way they walk or present themselves.

The general care of feeding, cleaning out, taking for walks, or even giving medicine to pets helps children to develop practical skills and knowledge. It can also help children to regulate themselves by giving their focus to an animal that needs them in order to survive and feel loved.

Whilst it is extremely painful to lose an animal or pet it can often be a child’s first encounter with the cycle of life and loss, but this is such an important part of understanding life, feeling feelings that help us love, miss, and grieve but also to know what it is to have special memories of something that has been so important and special to us.

Having animals as pets or animals to take care of in school can be a vital part of life experience and can enrich the curriculum and wider life skills for children. At Hamish & Milo, we know only too well the value that pets can bring and we celebrate opportunities to share our adventures, experiences, and joy from our very own furry friends.

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