Students can stand eye-to-eye with a bearded dragon or write about a hamster’s habitat with help from a Pets in the Classroom grant from PetSmart® (NASDAQ: PETM), available now for the 2013 school year in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Administered through the Pet Care Trust, the program helps pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers cover most of the cost of a classroom pet and start-up supplies.
Grants are available to help with the introduction of a fish, guinea pig, hamster, bearded dragon, leopard gecko, snake, fancy rat, parakeet or aquatic turtle. Since 2011 PetSmart has provided more than 7,500 grants to teachers, helping hundreds of thousands of students experience the hands-on learning and fun of classroom pets.
“I recently introduced a corn snake to my class with help from a Pets in the Classroom grant, and I've been thrilled with the excitement and engagement the pet brings to my students,” said Meryl Davidson, a first-grade teacher at Pinehurst Elementary School in Pinehurst, N.C. “Not only is a reptile a great way to support learning around math, science and reading, but our snake also encourages wonderful exploration and fun in the classroom.”
Classroom pets are great for kids because they can be easy to care for and demonstrate unique behaviors that can get everyone excited about learning, according to PetSmart. Additionally, pets can help teach important lessons and support kids’ school performance. For example:
- Pets help adults create a welcoming environment in the classroom and more easily relate with their students.
- Bonding with a pet can give students a common ground with each other, and therefore encourage friendships and positive interactions.
- Since kids often view pets as friends, classroom pets can encourage good behavior. For example, a teacher can tell students to use inside-voices because too much noise may scare the pet. In turn, students understand and respond.
- Shy or struggling students may improve skills such as reading when the audience is a pet.
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