Therapy dogs have been known to help people with a variety of disabilities and disorders, and as if dogs weren’t already the perfect companion, it seems they are even helping students read.
The four legged animals with almost endless patience are helping boost the confidence in students with learning disabilities or anxiety disorders. Therapy dog reading programs, like the one at the Fletcher Library in Hendersonville, North Carolina, allow children to schedule appointments each week to read to dogs from Therapy Dogs International.
According to Therapy Dog International, many children who struggle with reading are embarrassed to practice for fear of being judged, however reading in front of dogs allows children to practice in a safe and judgement-free environment.
The organization’s website explains that student “are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates. By sitting down next to a dog and reading to the dog, all threats of being judged are put aside. The child relaxes, pats the attentive dog and focuses on the reading.”
When Rachel Sher volunteered her therapy dog’s service at the Fletcher Library last October, the library assistant, Elizabeth Klontz, recognized the opportunity to help children who struggle with reading to practice and gain confidence.
Michelle Sheppard’s 8-year-old daughter has had great results from participating in the program. “It’s just amazing. Just a short amount of time has such an impact in those moments that they share,” Sheppard told the Associated Press.
And Fletcher Library isn’t the only place to recognize how useful therapy dogs can be for improving literacy. Other programs like Reading Paws, Paws to Read, and R.E.A.D have been working to pair up therapy dogs with students across the country.
According to a University of California study, children who read with therapy dogs in a 10-week program improved reading skills by 12 percent, yet the children who participated in the same course but didn’t read to dogs showed no improvement.
What do you think about these therapy dog reading programs? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
[Featured image credit: www.mutluduvar.com]