Often times in a preschool teachers life she will find that no matter how well in advance she has planned her lessons, things happen that change the course of this discussion. In my personal experience, this has happened countless times, both for the good and the bad. Sometimes these changes are due to faulty equipment or at times due to a more pressing interest in another topic or stimuli, whatever it is, the teachers job is to adjust to these changes and not get caught up with the “plan”.
When I was starting out, I occasionally struggled with that. It took some time for me to really embrace the idea that no matter what I do or say, if the children are intent on something else, I better just go with it. And what I realized from this is by going with the children’s flow, I would find they learned better and they remembered these lessons even years later.
One example of these sudden changes was when I ran into Mother Nature as I taught my kids about animals and bugs. As part of our Math lesson, I had them go through an investigative bug hunt. The task was for them to look for the plastic bugs and pictures of animals I had hidden around the playground and to count the number of legs these bugs had, then we were to chart this and compare which had more or less . Armed with a magnifying glass and a record sheet, we set out in search for these little critters.Read More
One of my favorite stories for Circle Time is Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I love how it is so colorful and fun, and that from one story, I can talk about a lot of different concepts ranging from the days of the week to rote counting and even the butterfly’s life cycle. Coincidentally, a few days after I used the story in my toddlers class, I found a bunch of caterpillars munching on the leaves in a flowering plant (I’m not sure what it’s called, but in Filipino we call it calachuchi). I excitedly took the plant and created a terrarium where my kids could watch the life cycle happen right before their very eyes!Read More
Should pets be allowed in the classroom? Pushing the question further, should kids be allowed to keep pets?
For me, I would say yes. However, this can become a controversial issue for many schools, what with the question of accountability in case of an accident with a pet in class. I cannot discount the fact that there have been incidences where pets lash out at an owner and in some cases, even maim, hurt, and worse, kill a child. I do not know the statistics of these cases, but they do exist. Further, in my school for example, I have had to deal with a number of parent requests to not have animals in class because their children are allergic or asthmatic. While I do honor and respect these requests, I try to find compromises that will allow me to introduce concepts with pets as the teachers.
Pets make wonderful teachers. Why?
Pets can definitely help teach basic math skills, such as counting, addition and subtraction. They can also teach children about the life cycle, digestion, and even death. But more than anything, pets teach kids very important life lessons that cannot really be taught by just hearing it. Taking care of a pet can teach a child three important R’s, and I’m not talking about “reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic” here. With our four- (sometimes more, some times less!!!) legged friends kids learn responsibility, respect and (g)ratitude.
Through caring for a pet, a child learns how to be responsible and to take responsibility for their actions. They become aware of the need to maintain a schedule, to participate in tasks and to understand that there are consequences to actions.
With pets, a child of any age can begin to learn the value of respect. They begin to realize that one has to be gentle and to honor one’s space. They are taught to be kind and to empathize with others. They also realize that one cannot just do what he or she wants because others have feelings, too, as they recognize how it could feel to be in someone else’s shoes . In the same manner, a child can also begin to understand how it is to interact and engage with others around him/her.
Another important and crucial life lesson children can learn from animals is gratitude. It doesn’t take much to please an animal, and they’re not afraid to show it. With the wag of their tail, snuggle on your side, or a lick on your hand, animals say thank you for kindness shown to them. When their pets show them some love, children can begin to understand that showing gratitude is a great thing to do.
These are among the few very important lessons a pet can teach a child.
For me, my personal pet pick is a dog. However, for class, especially since I teach toddlers, I would pick smaller and less hairy pets, such as turtles or fish. Does your child have a pet? Or are you considering getting him/her one? If so, what is it? Leave a comment and share your stories!