How Classroom Pets Are Helping Students, Even in Remote Learning

While this past school year was quite different for most teachers and students, teachers are using pets, both in the classroom and in remote learning, to help students benefit. 

Through a survey conducted this spring by the Pets in the Classroom grant program, 97 percent of respondents said that having a pet in the classroom has been a positive experience, and more than 90 percent would be extremely likely to recommend the Pets in the Classroom program. Additionally, 79 percent of teachers use classroom pets every week as part of their curriculum, with nearly 69 percent incorporating their pet into virtual learning. 

Many teachers shared inspiring comments through the survey, with 56 percent of teachers (1,471 respondents) telling about the meaningful ways that their pet has helped a student or students in the classroom. These comments coincide with the results from the survey in which teachers reported that their students had demonstrated improvements in the following areas:

  • Attendance: Seventy-nine percent of teachers saw an improvement in attendance due to their classroom pet. 
  • Decreased anxiety: Nearly 95 percent of teachers saw some decrease in anxiety among students. 
  • Empathy/Compassion: An overwhelming 98 percent of teachers saw an increase in empathy and compassion, thanks to a classroom pet. 
  • Test/academic performance: Nearly 76 percent of teachers saw an improvement in test/academic performance. 
  • Responsibility: Ninety-eight percent of teachers saw an increase in student responsibility: 
  • Self-Esteem: Ninety-three percent of teachers surveyed saw an improvement in self-esteem in students. 
  • Increased social skills: Ninety-six percent of teachers saw an increase in social skills: 
  • Student engagement: Ninety-eight percent of teachers saw an increase in student engagement
  • Decrease in necessary student disciplinary measures: Of the teachers surveyed, 88 percent saw a decrease in necessary student disciplinary measures.

The Pets in the Classroom grant program was established by the Pet Care Trust with the knowledge that classroom pets can be a valuable teaching tool that many teachers do not have access to because of a lack of funding, officials said. During the 2019-20 school year, 26, 309 Pets in the Classroom grants were awarded—the largest number of grants awarded in a single year, officials reported—bringing the total number of grants to more 171,196 since the program’s inception in 2011.

While the organization anticipates unprecedented challenges when children transition back to the classroom, the Pets in the Classroom grant program is ready to help by providing funding for classroom pets to PreK – 9th grade teachers across the U.S. and Canada beginning Aug. 1.