Everybody Panic! Learning Perspective from Class Pets
My younger two children are in VPK this year. Luckily, the program is at the preschool we’ve been part of since my older daughter first attended – 5 years now! Before that, it was the school my brother and sister attended when they were children, over 25 years ago. I love being able to take them to a school where every employee knows them, knows me, knows our family.
I also love the program at the school. One of the great things they do is their class pet program. I remember going in for the meeting before my oldest daughter started in the two mornings a week program. The teacher was discussing procedures and got to the class pet discussion. My head snapped up, and I’m sure it was a look of sheer terror on my face. I was sending her to school to get a few hours a week with only newborn twins to care for – I did NOT want to have to care for some animal!
Luckily, my fears were quickly eliminated. The class pet was a penguin – stuffed, of course – who would go home each weekend in a little Igloo cooler. Each child had a turn to take the ‘pet’ home and document their adventures in the class book. Photos, drawings, and stories of park visits and sleepovers were shared. Each child got a glimpse into their classmates’ lives outside of school.
Of course, it is a great learning experience as well. The responsibility of caring for another, the expressive language used to tell their adventures, the experience of sharing this beloved toy with the rest of the students. We’ve always enjoyed having the pets come home to visit.
This weekend the twins brought home two pets – Nosey the kitty and RuffRuff the dog. They arrived in a little suitcase-style pet carrier. My daughter, Lorelei, proudly took on the task of pulling the rolling carrier behind her as we ran errands, went to get frozen yogurt, and took my older daughter to dance. They played happily with the animals during the lesson. And then we went home. And the pets – didn’t.
As we approached home last night, Lorelei suddenly asked, “Where is RuffRuff? Where is Nosey?” It wasn’t until her question that it occurred to all of us that the pets had been left at the dance studio, tucked safely under the bench. Tears ensued – and then my favorite part of the entire thing – Lorelei suddenly shouted, “Everybody panic! Everybody panic!”
I assured her that panicking was not the way to go. Luckily our first stop this morning is the dance studio for another class. If my expectation is correct, we’ll arrive to find the pets still tucked safely into their carrier. We did get to have a good talk about responsibility and how challenging it can sometimes be. Who would have thought the class pets I dreaded would bring us all so much entertainment and fun?
Plus, now whenever something goes wrong, I’ll get to hear a little voice inside my head shouting, “Everybody panic!” Hopefully it will be a good reminder to me, as well. Especially since at the elementary school the pets are no longer stuffed.