Are you considering adopting your child’s first pet? Pets can teach responsibility and give your child a sense of unconditional love if you encourage them to feed, walk, and play with their pets. However, did you know they can also help your child in school? While they may not give the answer when your child says, “I need help with my homework,” they can make it easier to manage stress and perform better in school. Let’s take a look at how.
1. Better Motor Skills
Having a pet increases a child’s overall level of activity. They are more active and learn motor skills and hand-eye coordination sooner. One study conducted in 2010 in England showed that kids with a dog had 11 extra minutes of exercise compared with kids who don’t. Even though 11 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, it is a significant amount of exercise per day for a child.
Improved motor skills can help your child with writing and in gym class. By encouraging your child to stay active and move around, you are encouraging them to develop these skills.
2. Better Physical Health
How many times has your child missed school over a cold or respiratory illness? Even though cats and dogs don’t necessarily fight off sickness, they can make it less likely that your child will fall ill in the first place. The American Academy of Pediatrics published a study in 2012 that found children who came into contacts with pets like dogs and cats had a better prognosis for help. They suffered fewer ear infections and respiratory infections. Additionally, when these children did get sick, they ended up needing a shorter course of antibiotics than children who lived in pet-free homes. Of course, it is always nice having a furry friend to snuggle up to when your child does fall sick too.
3. Better Support
A study was published in 2011 that analyzed a group of second graders in their ability to read. One group was asked to read to a dog, and another was asked to read to an adult. Those who read to a dog developed their reading skills more quickly than those reading to an adult. One hypothesis is that kids get a type of nonjudgmental support from animals that they do not get from their parents.
You can also use your dog to help your child in math. For example, let them help you calculate how many cups of food are needed per week or how many laps around the block they need to go before reaching 2 miles.
4. Stress Reduction
Stress plays a major role in the school environment. It can cause difficulty sleeping and concentrating, both things that can lead a student to struggle in school. Pets provide a type of social and emotional support, unlike any other. Students who are stressed might feel relief after playing with their animal for a while or just sitting with them and talking to someone who is not going to judge their feelings. With the release of stress, the brain can start thinking more clearly again.
5. Improved Social Interaction
Even though cats and dogs are animals, the bond that children form with their pets encourages social interaction. This is especially true in your neighborhood. If your child sees another child playing with a pet, they are more likely to form a friendship or interact with them. Having a pet is something they share.
Additionally, pets provide social support to children. They help a child feel more confident in making friends and developing positive relationships. If a child struggles in relationships, animals can provide emotional support. Children may talk to pets how they wouldn’t talk to people, which gives them a positive outlet for their emotions.
Adopting a furry friend can benefit your child in more ways that one. By helping your child excel in school, you won’t regret bringing a dog, cat, or another pet home. They can help their physical and mental health, improve social skills, and do so much more. Between these things and the added benefit of teaching responsibility, the only thing that should be holding you back is deciding what type of pet you want.