While animals are common in today’s elementary school classrooms, research regarding their impact on child wellbeing and development is limited. The proposed PIC Study will measure the effects of classroom pets for children, aged 8-10 years, who care for them over the course of one school year, thus allowing for thorough exploration of important new directions for classroom learning and human-animal relationships.
We hypothesize that children with a classroom pet for one school year will experience: increased social skills and competence; decreased competing problem behaviors; and improved academic competence to a significantly greater degree than children who do not have a classroom pet (as reported by teachers, parents, and children).
900 students and parents, as well as 60 teachers from 30 U.S and Canadian third/fourth grade classrooms, are expected to participate in this nine-month study. Increased pro-social skills, decreased problem behaviors, and improved academic competence among children in the treatment cohort would support the hypothesis.