Many teachers are turning to classroom pets as they seek ways to provide social and emotional support for their students. The Pets in the Classroom grant program, which provides funding to teachers to purchase and maintain classroom pets, issued over 15,500 grants to teachers during the first two months of the program being open for the 2022-23 school year, Aug. 1 through Sept. 30.
Established by the Pet Care Trust, the Pets in the Classroom grant program provides funding for a small animal or pet supplies to pre-kindergarten through ninth grade teachers in both private and public schools who desire to introduce a pet into the classroom or who already have a pet in the classroom. The program was established by the Pet Care Trust with the knowledge that, while pets are a valuable teaching tool, many teachers have very limited resources for the support of classroom animals.
“The Pets in the Classroom grant program is thrilled to be able to support so many teachers in their desire to provide the joys and benefits of interacting with a pet to their students,” said Matt Coffindaffer, Executive Director of the Pet Care Trust. “We have seen a large increase in grant applicants this school year and will continue to provide this resource to teachers throughout the school year.”
The increase in grant applications is not surprising, as many educators reported observing more social, emotional and behavioral challenges in their students returning to the classroom after the pandemic last year. As studies prove and teachers confirm, classroom pets serve as a much-needed resource for students who are experiencing anxiety, difficulty focusing, self-control problems, or who just need a friend.
Through a survey conducted this spring by the Pets in the Classroom grant program, teachers across the U.S. and Canada shared valuable insight into the multitude of ways that students are benefiting from interacting with pets in an educational setting:
• 98% of teachers saw an increase in empathy and compassion, thanks to a classroom pet.
• 98% of teachers saw an increase in student responsibility.
• 96% of teachers saw an increase in social skills.
• 95% of teachers saw some decrease in anxiety among students.
• 94% of teachers surveyed saw an improvement in students’ self-esteem.
• 90% saw a decrease in necessary student disciplinary measures.
• 86% of teachers saw an improvement in attendance due to their classroom pet.
The survey results, which included hundreds of stories shared by teachers, reinforce the results of numerous studies: there are many benefits that pets can provide to students, especially in the form of social-emotional support. The teachers’ stories describe children who were able to overcome anxiety upon returning to school, those whose anger and behavioral issues subsided after a classroom pet helped them learn empathy, those who became motivated in learning, and more.
Since the program’s inception in 2010, Pets in the Classroom has awarded over 218,215 grants to teachers, meaning an estimated 8.7 million children have experienced the joys and benefits of pet care through the grant program. For more information, visit www.PetsintheClassroom.org.