Pets are beloved members of our home and school communities, a great opportunity for science and language learning, and a chance for your little one to develop the ability to care for something that they love. Whether it is feeding a fish daily, or accompanying you when you walk the dog, your child will internalize the experience of this routine and eventually adopt it as a wonderful responsibility. Here are six ways to sync care for your furry (or spiky or scale-y) buddies with a Montessori education.
1. Practice Feeding Your Pet Together.
Discuss how many times a day they have to eat, what they eat, and how to feed them. As you build this into your routine, your little one will be excited to help you out with this task each day, and it will build their confidence, independence, and connection to the animals in your community.
2. Have a water source your child can use to fill up the animal’s water throughout the day when they notice it’s empty.
Part of caring for the environment in Montessori is caring for the people & animals in the environment! This is a great way to encourage care for surroundings and practical life skills. Also, walking to and from the water bowl holding and balancing a pitcher of water helps your little one practice walking and become more confident at it.
3. Bring in early mathematical concepts.
You can say things like “The bowl is empty. Let’s fill the bowl with one cup of food.” Or “Fluffy needs two cups of food. Can you measure out: one…two…” and so on.
4. Teach grace and courtesy in the way you treat animals.
Practice using gentle touches with animals by petting them softly and treating them respectfully. For example, you might say “It looks like Fluffy is telling you to stop when he climbs up high,” or “That sound Max is making is him asking for space. Let’s give him some room to feel safe.” Pets are a great way to learn this language, which can then be extended to their interactions with you, their classmates, etc. =If your little one is upset, you might say “It sounds like you need some space right now,” and they will remember the meaning of the phrase from the way you used it with your pets.
5. Explore the concept of “The same, but different.”
A Pug and a Labrador Retriever look different, but they are both dogs. A Parakeet and a Parrot look different, but are both birds! Use the pets in your home to learn that even though we categorize the things we see in the world, every being is unique.
6. Hang photos of your pets and others at your child’s eye-level.
Babies love to see photos of things they recognize, especially when those things live in their own home! Put some photos of your pets on the wall in your little one’s play space at their eye-level. This is another great language tool. You can say things like: “Can you find Spot?” Or: “This is a rabbit. Rabbits eat carrots, just like you!”
This post brought to you by Monti Pets, uniting children and pets in play since 2019.