Mazomanie Elementary School is using therapy dogs to help kids learn and practice reading out loud. While the dogs cannot teach them how to read, they are wonderful assistants for special education teachers. They are non-judgemental, ready to give you all their attention, and will love you no matter what, so kids love reading to them.
Many kids who have learning disabilities find it difficult to participate in school. It can be daunting to read out loud in class if there are judging eyes all around. Even if the class is really good and there aren’t any bullies, some kids can still feel shy, awkward, or ashamed of their ability to read or speak. This discourages them from practicing the vital skill, so teachers have turned to some four-legged assistants.
🚨CUTE DOGS ALERT!! 🚨https://t.co/okWkRlxN10— Meghan Reistad NBC15 (@meghanreistad) September 5, 2019
Last year, the school started a therapy dog program. The goal was to get kids to become more comfortable reading to others. It started as a project for kids in special education classes, but with its success, the school has expanded the program and has made it available to all kids. Anyone who wishes to practice their reading skills can start with reading to a therapy dog. The furry teaching assistants come to the school once a week, and they are accompanied by their owners, who are volunteers for the program.
The kids feel more comfortable around the dogs because they aren’t judgemental. No matter how they sound or how many mistakes they make, the dogs won’t laugh, snicker, or make fun of them. Even though they don’t understand the full context of the story you’re reading to them, the dogs actively listen and pay attention to you. This encourages the kids to continue on reading and practicing their oral skills.
Other than teaching kids how to read, therapy dogs have proven to have many beneficial uses. From calming anxious university students at the library to getting kids in hospitals excited about life, therapy dogs are seen time and time again to be blessings from the universe. Perhaps it has something to do with their ability to love unconditionally, and we constantly need that in our lives, no matter what situation we’re in.