Whether your kids are heading back to school in-person, remote learning, a hybrid model of both, or homeschooling, one constant remains, your pets will always be there for you. And with multi-tasking already on overload around the house, it can seem like pets are just another chore that needs to get done. But did you know pets can actually help improve your child’s learning? Studies show social, emotional, and cognitive development improve when kids care for their pets. This article will focus on how kids’ learning can be enhanced while learning from home with pets. Responsibility One of the main reasons parents purchase pets for the family is to engrain a sense of responsibility into their children. Kids learn what needs the pet has. Typically, this involves setting a schedule. At certain times throughout the day, the pet will be fed, taken outside, cages cleaned, and refilled with water. This helps kids understand what a routine is: Wake up, brush teeth, put clothes on, and get ready to learn. Motivation Pets help kids learn motivation with cause and effect. If the dog whines to go outside, they may have to go. If a cat meows, they’re probably hungry. There’s an internal motivation for the child to react thus relieving the pet of their need. Parents and teachers aren’t always around to make a child pay attention or work on their homework. Motivation becomes driving factor for students to pick up the pencil and work on their math problems. Interactive educational lessons How many spots does Cali-the-cat have? What words can you use to describe Goldy-the-goldfish? If Rupert-the-dog has 2 front legs and 2 back legs, how many legs does he have total? Pets add a fun, interactive way for kids to learn. They take the words and numbers from a page or screen and turn it into a real-life example. It can also open their minds to more curious questions. Why do I only have two legs? Why do dogs have fur, and I don’t? Kids who are shy may also be apprehensive reading in front of other classmates or teachers. Having kids read to their pets is a great way to gain confidence. Physical activity Choosing a pet for your family typically depends on your lifestyle. Some pets (turtles, hamsters, rabbits) are more stationary. Other pets (dogs and cats) need playtime and exercise. For kids learning at home, this is a great way to enhance their physical activity and get outside. Setting 20 minutes aside to walk the dog, play fetch, hide and seek, or cat-fishing with a toy mouse are all great ways to take a break and get some exercise for both the pet and the child. Social skills Many parents are worried their kids will lose essential social skills if they don’t get back to school full time. While pets can’t replace 100% of those interactions, they still bring value to kids: Talking to their animals Confiding their feelings Giving commands Showing affection Incorporating pretend-play scenarios Pets show unconditional love and ultimately support their small human friends. This boosts a child’s self-esteem, and they respond with compassion and care. Pet insurance to bring peace of mind With everything going on at home, pet insurance is a great way to worry about one less thing while also protecting the pet you love. With the Direct Benefits Marketplace, we make it easy to choose the plan that fits your pet and your family. Sources: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/social-skills-for-kids/learning-pets.html https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the_benefits_of_a_family_pet#:~:text=Pets%20teach%20children%20valuable%20life,cuddle%20buddy%20during%20nap%20time.