Therapy dogs help teach school children the benefit of reading

By Kate Hassett

Therapy dogs help teach school children the benefit of reading
Therapy dogs improving children's literacy one book at a time.

Learning to read can be tough for many children, especially when suffering from the pressure to perform at the speed of other children around you.

A fundamental skill, reading can be daunting for many, but for children involved in The Good Dog Foundation’s initiative, turning the pages couldn’t be easier.

Once a week, children involved in the program travel to their local library or bookstore and sit down with a furry listener.

“For each session, the dog and the child-tutor settle down onto a blanket-covered pad on the floor in a corner of the school media center or in the library. Either the dog picks out a book or the child selects a picture book, brings it to the dog, holds it flat and begins to read,” explains founder and executive director, Rachel McPherson.

The activity works by promoting a judgement-free environment where the children believe they are enriching the lives of their captured audience (in this case the dogs), when really, they are increasing their own vocabulary and learning to read surrounded by comfort and support.

The idea behind the initiative aims to help children learn to read in an enriching environment where they don’t feel anxious or under pressure to perform in front of the animals. This relaxing arena, where dogs lend their ears to children in need, is currently helping thousands of students increase their literacy.

The groups are looking to inspire a love of reading and animals, in the children, while at the same time teaching them about the importance of conservation and letting go of their fears.

Would you like to see this initiative in your local primary school?

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