Friday, November 17, 2006

Dads - Part 4

Next in the series on how Dads (or at least the Dad at our house) participate in the education of their children. (If you missed it, here's Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

4) Dad handles everything and anything to do with pets or animals.

This isn't unique to homeschooling and applies to families in general. Henry feels very strongly that pets are an important part of child development. It gives children the opportunity to be responsible for the care of the animal. It gives children experience with the life and death cycle of mortality.

While I agree with this, I hate to clean up after animals. I also have terrible allergies. So, Henry takes care of anything related to pets. He works with the girls to pick out a pet. He takes them on field trips to breeders and pet stores. He takes them to visit other people's animals. He teaches the girls how to care for and clean up after their animals. He takes the girls with him to the vet.

Henry also makes an effort to take the girls to his sister's house to learn about and ride horses. Their aunt is an accomplished rider and a great teacher.

The girls have had some wonderful experiences with animals. And not to sound odd, but the death of a pet is an important growth experience. Henry has presided over more than one pet funeral. Though I found his eulogy at the rat funeral rather terrifying when you think about all the roof rats we've killed in our garage.

Any time one of the kids asks about getting a new pet, my response is this. "Talk to your father. I'm not on that committee."

My kids know that I don't involve myself with the pets, but when they were asleep at night sometimes I would play with the pet rats. They were really quite sweet and I was actually quite sad to see them go. However, I wanted to throw a party when the last goldfish died. The kids were just to little to clean the tank and I did get stuck with that one. Now the tank is a pet rock habitat. I couldn't be happier.

For next in this series, see Part 5.

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