This is re-post from the e-letter I get from NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). It's also great for parents too! NAEYC E-NEWS 11/12/2010 ========================================================== 10 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A CLASSROOM PET A classroom pet can captivate preschoolers' interest, teach empathy and responsibility, and encourage compassion and respect for living creatures. Pets require a big commitment, however. Here are 10 things to think about when choosing a classroom pet. 1. Yourself. What animals do you like? The ideal pet is one that you are interested in, comfortable with, and excited about sharing with the children. 2. The children. What types of animals are they interested in? Do any of the children have allergies or weak immune systems that could be affected by the presence of certain pets? 3. The pet. Research and consider the typical personality and needs of the animal. Is it happiest living alone or with others? Does it need a quiet environment? Does it sleep during the day? Is it easily frightened? Will it require daily attention? 4. Cost. Pets can be expensive. Who will pay for the animal, its food, habitat, and other necessary items, or costs such as veterinary care? 5. Care. It is important to agree on who will be responsible for the animal. What can the children do to take care of it? Who will care for the pet on weekends and holidays? What will you do if it gets sick? 6. Handling. The pet must be one that preschoolers can touch and hold. Animals that might bite, scratch, or harm the children in any way are not appropriate. How will you teach children to handle the pet safely and humanely? How will you supervise the children when they are handling the pet? 7. Health and safety. Many animals (such as reptiles, amphibians, and "pocket pets" like guinea pigs, gerbils, and hamsters) can carry salmonella. Children must use proper hand washing after handling any pet. Are there any other health risks associated with the pet you are considering? 8. Rules and regulations. Review your program's policies about classroom pets and check local health codes and licensing regulations. 9. Reproduction. Some animals reproduce easily; your two or three classroom critters could turn into many more. This could be a planned learning opportunity or something you want to avoid. If you purchase a female pet, find out whether she is pregnant. House males and females separately if you do not want them to have babies. 10. Death. On occasion, a well-loved classroom pet dies, which can be upsetting for preschoolers. A skilled teacher will have a plan in place to help children address and cope with their feelings of loss.