Thursday, March 30, 2017

The tale of a learning support dog

This article in the Guardian made me smile, because here for once was a very cheery story on the education pages to offset the normal gloomy discussions on deficiencies in our educational system.  I learnt that “more and more schools now employ waggy-tailed staff to soothe students and even help teach them to read aloud.”

The dogs are trained by an organization called Dogs Helping Kids (DHK ) before they are handed over to a school.  Apparently the effect on children’s behaviour and learning is quite marked.  “Classroom dogs not only improve literacy skills but also have a calming effect.”  The dog “just goes to sleep and the children don’t want to wake him so they are really quiet – and these are children that do have a tendency to get a bit excited.”

One particular dog is learning how to become a “listening dog” who will help children read aloud.  “He will put his head in their lap and listen, prompting them to turn a page with his paw.”  As a result, children increase their reading levels. 

A dog’s presence in school also reduces truancy.  Children who have a poor record of attendance are allowed to take a dog for a walk with a teacher at break time.  “It makes (the children) feel quite special and their attendance has improved massively”.

What a heartening story!

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