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6 Ways Caring For Pets Supports Montessori Learning

Pets are beloved members of our home and school communities. Caring for them offers the opportunity for science and language learning and a chance for your little one to practice expressing love through acts of service. 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 master each step. Here are six ways that caring for your furry (or spiky or scaly) buddies aligns with a Montessori approach at home.

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. Supply 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 and with their peers.

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!”

Does your little one love animals? We have a set of printable language cards that introduce 12 different animals. Learn how to use them in this post about language cards.

Animals Language Cards

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