The BEST Model Classroom adopted a new class pet this month for the beginning of the new school year. The classroom pet will help with many aspects of the BEST Model classroom such as life skill classes, behavior management, and calm down strategies. The students in the BEST Model classroom will spend the next few weeks learning about the specifics for taking care of their new Beta fish, Bubbles. Students are responsible for feeding the beta, cleaning its tank, creating a cleaning schedule, and participate in budgeting finances for maintenance materials.

The BEST Model classroom obtained their new friend with the help of the Pets in the Classroom Grant. Pets in the Classroom is an educational grant program that provides financial support to teachers to purchase and maintain small animals in the classroom. The program was established by the Pet Care Trust to provide children with an opportunity to interact with pets—an experience that can help to shape their lives for years to come. The Pets in the Classroom website even has care sheets and lesson plans based on what pet you are adding to your classroom.

Significant improvements were identified in social functioning, including increases in social approach behaviors and social skills, and decreases in social withdrawal behaviors when students diagnosed with ASD had a class pet program in their classroom. Overall, the classroom pet is going to help the BEST Model classroom make an odd school year turn into fun-filled adventure!

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