Various studies show the social, behavioral, and academic benefits of classroom pets, most notably a study by the American Humane Society published in 2019. But at Linden Grove School, all we need to do is spend a little time in the Middle School classrooms with pets and experience their benefits first hand.
Chinta the chinchilla is LGS’s most senior classroom pet and the most famous. Students from middle school down to the youngest grades have worked to achieve their goals for the opportunity to spend time with Chinta. Chinta’s caregiver, Mr. Kennedy, also allows his students to “take a break” with Chinta when they need to relax and clam down. He explains:
“Students can place the ‘take a break’ pass on their desk and walk over and pet the chinchilla. This helps keep them in the classroom during the learning process. When I see the tension release from them, I ask a question and their answer is on point.”
Mr. Kennedy’s students also learn responsibility by helping to care for Chinta:
“They make sure he has food, water and treats. My students get to feed Chinta a treat every class, either a piece of freeze-dried fruit or a digestive biscuit made of hay and alfalfa. Students can also help me clean out the cage and replace the bedding, but that is not a highly sought after job.”
More recent additions to the Middle School’s classroom pets are beta fish owned by Mr. Loar and a bearded dragon named Yoda owned by Ms. Moore.
For any school staff considering a classroom pet, LGS encourages you to visit Pets in the Classroom for information on the needs and benefits of different types of pets, and a grant to help you get started.