Pet Corner: Pets offer a learning experience for children

Yes, it’s true that I am a big-time animal lover, but that is not the only reason that I believe that children should be raised around animals. There are so many things that children can learn from growing up around animals.

Children who grow up around animals learn about responsibility. They learn about caring and providing for others. They learn about food and nutrition. They learn about life and death. They learn about aging. They learn about providing exercise. They learn about teaching and training. They learn about planning. They can also learn about budgeting and more. They learn about unconditional love. They learn about being relied upon.

As a parent, you can design a complete learning program for your child, developed around the pet. It can include math by calculating costs of purchasing the pet and its supplies, estimating how long food supplies will last, budgeting for vet expenses, making change when you go buy the pet supplies.

History can involve the history of how the pet became domesticated, how it was used in history. Social studies can be learning about the area where the animal comes from and about the lifestyles of the people from that area. Science can be about the reproductive system of the animal, the diet and nutrition of the animal, life and death, growth and development, and more.

It can teach your child how to go about doing research, how to search the Internet and the library, how to create charts and graphs. You can even develop art projects, photography projects, wood-shop projects and more. Depending on the age of your child, you can do reading and spelling projects designed around your child’s pet.

Basically, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination and dedication.

Designing education around a pet can make learning more fun for your child. For younger children, your involvement is more extensive. For older children, you can put more responsibility on them. They can develop programs, they can design the charts and graphs, they can do more extensive research.

It also helps to teach children about responsibility. Maybe if more children learned about the responsibility of taking care of a living creature, it would teach them to be better parents later in their life.

I feel that one of the most important things learned from pets is the life-and-death aspect. It always hurts to lose someone or something you love. Explaining death to a child is very difficult, and even harder when it is a close friend of the family or a family member. However, when a child loses a pet to death, it makes it easier for that child to deal with the death of a human being.

Death is never easy to deal with, but children learn about death through their beloved pets and learn that, eventually, the loss of that pet gets easier and easier each day. As they learn about burying the pet or cremating it, or however your family chooses to deal with it, they learn that, even though that beloved pet is gone, that’s pet memory lives on forever.

Tying pets and education together can be very simple or very complex. You, the parent, make that determination. It can start with research before purchasing a pet, or it can be developed around a pet you already own.

Cheryl Loveland is a dog groomer, pet-sitter, dog trainer and fosterer for many unwanted animals. She does rescue work for all types of animals and has owned or fostered most types of domestic animals and many wild ones. She currently resides with two bloodhounds, which she has shown in conformation and is currently training her male bloodhound for search-and-rescue work. Also residing with her are a bichon frisée, two cats and two birds. She welcomes comments, questions and suggestions for future articles at Remember, she is not an expert: she offers her opinions and suggestions from her experience and research.