5 Ways Pets Can Help Support Montessori Learning
Maria Montessori learned a lot about children by observing them. She noticed that children gain satisfaction from caring for living things.
This is why Montessori have been home to many types of creatures over the years, including fish, turtles, rabbits, hamsters and of course numerous caterpillars to butterflies.
As part of a Montessori Science curriculum, caring for living things teaches children about Biology, Life Cycles, and Parts of the Animals, all of which integrate correct vocabulary.
While your child is learning to be kind to others and to respect plants, it is also time to provide hands on lessons in being kind to animals too.
Children have a natural disposition toward animals. Teaching your child to take care of a family pet is a way of bringing the Montessori philosophy into your home.
Having your child care for living creatures develops a number of skills along with many positive character traits. This helps in the development responsibility, compassion, empathy, and to have an understanding and respect for all living things.
Preparing the Environment
The habitat comes first when preparing your child to care for a pet. This structure is important in helping your child be successful in meeting fundamental needs to show respect for the animal.
Setting up a safe home for the animal requires this attention because in Montessori learning, all living things deserve respect.
Considering the animals habitat will help you narrow down the list of pet possibilities, meaning you can offer your child realistic choices.
Start by considering the animals special needs and then provide 50% more. If the chosen habitat is barely big enough for the animal due to a lack of space then it is a good idea to not compromise and choose a different area or a different animal.
Depending on the chosen animal consider the space you may need whether it is horizontal or vertical. For example, a chinchilla needs height for climbing but not a lot of width space. Snakes can go vertical as can small birds who also prefer height to width. Aquariums for fish or reptiles come in all shapes and sizes.
To practice caring for animals at home, set up an area that includes pictures, and practice with your child until they have a complete understanding and can do it on their own. This will include feeding schedules and how much food the pet needs.
Whether the chosen pet is a fish, dog, cat, bird, guinea pig or lizard, the lessons that are presented to your child in caring for living creatures will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
Five Ways Pets Support Montessori Learning
- Teaches Early Learning Concepts
Having an animal at home or in the classroom allows children to develop the skills they will need when studying science and other school subjects in the future.
Children will observe the animal’s habits, become curiosity, ask questions, look for clues, make hypotheses and search for answers. Teaching your child to recognize when the bowl is empty then showing them to fill it up with food and how much can also help in understanding math.
- Learning Responsibility and Self Confidence
Having pets to care for helps children learn responsibility and gain self-confidence. Whether remembering to feed the pet on time or clean up after it, children enjoy taking care of their living creatures while learning how to be responsible and empowered.
- Learning Grace and Courtesy in the Treatment of Animals
Children are taught to use gentle touches with animals by petting them softly and treating them with respect. Children should be taught to look for cues when an animal needs space or is squirming in discomfort. Learning grace and courtesy in the way they treat animals helps children extend those perceptions to their interactions with others.
- Understanding Non-Verbal Skills
Ability to understand and properly interpret a non-verbal language is a distinct skill and having pets offers an opportunity for your child to master it. This goes hand and hand with courtesy for animals and noticing when they need space. If an animal is growling or hissing, and the child knows this is a sign that the animal is upset, they will be more willing to leave the animal alone. As an adult it should be suggested when an animal appears to want space and that the child give it.
- Expressing Respect for Living Things
When caring for pets, children learn how to express love, empathy, compassion and respect for all living things. There is proof that animals experience emotion. And, children who are gentle and respectful to animals are more likely to be respectful and empathetic to humans as well. When children can recognize the specific behaviors of animals, they’re better prepared to respect them. For example, when a child knows that a hiding cat is one that is scared, they will understand that they shouldn’t taunt the cat as means to draw it from its hiding place
Care of the environment, including care of plants and animals, is part of a practical life program and an important part of a Montessori education.
Having your child take care of family pets can be a way of bringing the Montessori philosophy into your home. It develops a number of skills along with many positive character traits, which helps in the development of the whole child.