Teaching Kids the Skill of Caring for Animals
Teaching kids the skills necessary for caring for animals is a process that not only helps them become more responsible but to have compassion for other living things in turn.
Most children want to keep a pet but do not know what specifically is involved in caring for them. These useful hints contained in this article will help your child and your family determine if you have the skills necessary to care for a dog, cat or other household pet.
Introducing the Concept of Animal Care
Younger children who have not been introduced to pets or pet care benefit from activities that help them understand the concepts of pet care. Worksheets are available online that can introduce such basic concepts like matching the animal to their food to where an animal sleeps to what is an appropriate household pet. Local libraries can also be a valuable resource for research on specific pets or for picture books about pets and pet care.
Older children can be introduced to pet care through the use of virtual pets. These types of games can be found online or for purchase in most electronic stores and require the user to select a pet and perform tasks in order to keep the pet happy and therefore “alive.”
Breaking Down the Basics
Whether you choose a fish, gerbil, dog, cat or other pet, the same skills apply in caring for any animal. These are the things a child must understand before taking on the responsibly of caring for a pet and are the next step in teaching proper care for animals.
- Discuss who would be responsible on a daily basis for pet care. Identify who will participate in caring for the animal and assign tasks on a rotating basis.
- Write a list of the daily, weekly and routine care for the animal. It is also helpful to include the amount of time it will take to accomplish each task. This puts the care into a different perspective if a child not only knows what he is doing but how much time out of his day it will require.
- Create an illustrated pet care chart. Children love to help with creative projects and most are motivated by a chart or graph that will show goals or progress. Include feeding, exercise, waste removal, grooming and other tasks involved in the specific pet’s care.
- Estimate yearly pet care costs. Include veterinary care, food, toys, beds, habitats, etc. Use this figure to illustrate how much the animal will cost to keep and care for and explain how this fits into the family budget.
Of course having a pet is not the right decision for every family but following these steps will help your children identify what skills are necessary in caring for a pet and will determine whether or not they are ready to help introduce one to your family.