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Looking after a pet can teach your child to take responsibility and encourage kindness. A pet relies on its "family" to provide the right food and living conditions. For instance, a dog needs suitable food and daily exercise, as well as affection and a good place to sleep. Keeping a dog comes with social responsibility - dog poo must be picked up, bagged and binned. Also make sure its bark is not upsetting neighbours.
If your situation does not allow you to keep a dog or a cat, consider smaller animals. Guinea pigs, hamsters, mice and gerbils can be kept indoors in a cage. Your child will learn what food they need, how to keep their cages clean, how to hold them gently, and what sort of bedding to provide. They might even get to see the whole life cycle from birth to death.
A small fish tank is an option if your space is limited.Get advice from your local pet shop how to set it up and maintain it, and which fish to choose.
Watch episodes of RTE Junior TV series "I Want a Pet" on the RTE Player to learn about some different types of pets kept by Irish children. Each episode is around 6 minutes long.
One of the ways children learn is through play. A child who is playing is refining learning skills that continue to develop during childhood and beyond. Indoor and outdoor games are a great way of practising some of the reading, writing and number skills your child has learned.
Encourage your child to teach you a game – letting them teach you something is empowering for your child.
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