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Class Pets – What are the Best Choices for Your Classroom?

Has your class started discussing ‘class pets’? Are you excited or filled with trepidation about what that might mean for your family? Here are the facts from Ed QLD as well as some suggestions from our Families Facebook Family!

Class Pets – from the horse’s mouth

Education Queensland has a fair bit to say about the keeping of class pets. As you can imagine, they have a number of processes and procedures in place to guarantee the best outcome for EVERY living thing – including your kids!

Basically, it works like this:

  • Class pets must be living in an environment where correct DUTY OF CARE has been taken. This means that they have access to water and food. That they are comfortable and free from disease and pain. That they are not exposed to frightening or distressing situations. Finally, that they are free to ‘be’ their normal selves – allowed to display behaviours in keeping with their species.
  • Class pets must not be used for any kind of experimentation. Their purpose is to provide students with the opportunity to engage in observation and care of living things.
  • Class pets must be, at all times, kept safe and secure in line with the above policies.

Class pets – recommendations

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Recently, we received a message from a primary school teacher looking for feedback on some ideas for getting class pets.

A lot of our Facebook audience had concerns about the safety of the animal and questioned whether or not Ed QLD permitted the keeping of class pets. They do but it MUST be in keeping with their policies as to duty of care and allowance for regular animal behaviour. Our Families family also made sure that there were adequate rosters in place for taking care of the animal over weekends and during school holidays.

Some suggestions we got for ‘class pets’.

  • “My son’s grade 3 had mice or rats lol but the kids enjoyed it” – Lea
  • “My mum’s class does a teddy bear ?? it can travel more and less responsibility” – Meghan (Ed’s note: This is a particularly great idea for younger kids!)
  • “They did have silk worms in my son’s prep class. Ant farm, caterpillars” – Paula
  • “Hermit crabs” – Shazzy (Ed’s note: Quite a few of our audience disagreed with this and mentioned that there was a lot more to the care of hermit crabs than many are led to believe. If this is a pet choice for you we would definitely recommend further research)
  • “When I was in primary school we had silk worms” – Stacey
  • “My son’s year 1/2 class have a frog in this term, but obviously no actual interaction. His teacher let us take his scorpion in for the kids to see too!” – Ainslie
  • “At our school there have been fish and budgies. The budgies used to sit on the kids shoulders” – Holly
  • There’s two guinea pigs at my daughters kindy” – Helen
  • “My son’s prep teacher last yr got burrowing cockroaches (Doug the bug book) and they also had hermit crabs!” – Felicity
  • “My kids D’s both had an animal Toy, it went home with a child for a week with a journal. Each child wrote a journal entry with a drawn picture or photo. This was a great thing. My daughter is about to graduate year 6 and the kids that are still at the school are receiving a copy of their page as a grad present” – Emma-Louise (Ed’s note: Love this!)
  • “Our school has one year 1 class that has a budgie class pet it goes home with a child every day, weekend and holidays. We are at a Brisbane State School they’ve had it for years” – Trisha
  • “My son’s prep class had a budgie and each weekend/holidays it would go home with a different family. My son is now gr3 and his class has a Siamese Fighting fish” – Karen
  • “Fish” – Kelli
  • “I’d go with a nondescript fish that is easily replaceable or maybe an ant farm” – Chantelle
  • “My son had mice, a blue tongue lizard, hermit crabs and guinea pigs at his old kindy – he loved it!! They always took turns feeding and caring for them” – Tania
  • “Our kindy class has stick insects, the kids love them” – Myah
  • “Mexican walking fish – lives in a fish tank. Students are on a cleaning and feeding roster of the tank. Cleaning the tank is easy – just get those magnetic cleaners – kids love them – like white board dusters but there is a magnetic one on the inside of the tank and it follows the outside cleaner. The fish is very interesting – walks on bottom of Fisk tank and swims. Has whiskers like a cat fish. Low maintenance” – Rachel
  • “Rats are great pets and are quite clean” – Grey

Class Pets – your thoughts?

Pets are, as we know, fabulous for the fostering of empathy and caring in our children. However, taking on a class pet becomes a whole new shared responsibility. There’s a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong and you should NEVER put an animal in any kind of danger or stress.

The jury’s out in our office but what do you think? Is it a good idea to keep class pets?

If you’re looking for a small pet for your home, check out our guide to pocket pets for kids! Or if you are on the hunt for the best dog for your family, we know that too!

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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