Last week NPR released a story about “How Reading Aloud to Therapy Dogs Can Help Struggling Kids.” It really resonated with me. Here are the highlights of the story:
While many people are familiar with therapeutic pets and how they can help lift up people’s spirits, bringing them into the classroom might sound far-fetched. How can a therapy pet possibly teach children the life lessons of kindness and empathy? Can a pet really alter the way that students feel about learning?
Educational therapist Rebecca Barker Bridges believed that a dog could help students feel more confident about learning, and so she adopted Stanley, a golden retriever.
Pets are very nonjudgmental, and their calming presence distills stressful situations,” Bridges says. “For children who feel insecure about their capacity to do things like reading, therapy pets bolster their self-confidence, which reduces their anxiety.”
“Students feel self-conscious about reading because they’re afraid of being judged by students and teachers if they don’t do a ‘good job.’ But Stanley dismantles this fear for them. He makes learning joyful,” says Bridges.
“Riley is a certified Animal Assisted Therapy dog trained at Dogtors Animal-assisted Therapy” Leslie said. “The training was 10 weeks during which time the professional trainers test the dog/handler teams for aptitude and temperament, instruct us on various topics, observe us in role playing exercises, and put each team through a practical test, plus a written exam for the handler. Dogs must already be obedience trained coming into the program.”
“Riley and I did some visiting at Hospice of Dayton and an assisted living residence, but he is such a natural with kids that we only do reading now. We go to Wright Library, Centerville Library and Parkwood School in Beavercreek. There is no scientific evidence on reading dogs, but there are theories about kids getting over their fear of reading aloud because of the calming, non-judgmental presence of a dog.”
Just one more of the many positive, cool things Dayton has going on. So proud of our Region and all those who make a difference in such a caring way!