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Home : 2002 : Jul : 22

    Suggestions and a word of caution
    By Cathy-Dee

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    Before you head out to find a classroom pet, I would recommend talking to your administration first to see if there are any school guidelines you should be aware of.

    And you may also want to wait until after the first few days of school and then send home a note asking parents about allergies.

    There are many children who are allergic to different animals - especially fur or feathers and some children with Asthma as well so you want to be careful when having a class pet. Some schools ban all fur/feather pets because even having them in the school could affect children in another classroom. We have a TA in our school who is highly allergic to fur dander and even if a class has a short visit by a pet and she walks in the room an hour later (after the pet is gone) it has triggered her asthma.

    Pets that usually do not affect allergies may include
    fish, lizards, frogs, insects like spiders (although I wouldn't call them pets )

    If allergies are not a concern, then other fun pets can include
    hamsters (although they are more active at night)
    guinea pigs

    I would stay away from exotic pets like hedgehogs, ferrets, etc., as these really are wild animals and are not easily handled by children.

    As with any pet at home, consider the care, etc., Grade 1 children can be overseen with feeding but it will most likely be you who has to clean the cage or aquarium, buy the food, etc., Also decide now about holidays and what will happen with the pet at the end of the year.
    Also be prepared for the pet to possibly die and how you would deal with that in the classroom.

    On a personal note, although fish are not touchable - they are often the easiest class pet to manage and can be left for a few days without having to worry about them. As well some pet shops will store fish over holidays for minimal fees.

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