Since those early days, this aim has progressed even further and we now offer schools our Read to Dogs programme, which commenced some 10 years ago.
Over the last few years it has been developed to help break down barriers whereby children might find it difficult to read, and to help improve their reading overall.
Read to DogsThe children find comfort from the dogs and are able to relax when they are with them and the volunteers, which helps them to become more confident readers who are then able to participate more in school work. Volunteers and teachers see amazing results. Not every dog can do this work, and both dog and human volunteers are carefully assessed prior to becoming a Read to Dogs partner.
As more schools hear about the benefits, we are finding we are getting even more schools contacting us requesting a visit. Our volunteers are finding it is good for many of our dogs to have variety in their work, so they will visit the elderly and sick as well as children in schools. As such, our Read to Dogs programme is growing all the time.
We have heard some lovely stories from our volunteers about the improvements to the children’s reading they have seen and positive comments from teaching staff. We have also heard lovely stories about when the children have seen the dogs outside of the school grounds and enthusiastically explained to their parents about the fantastic dogs they have met.
The Read to Dogs programme also works to safely break down barriers in cases where children are might be frightened of dogs, by teaching canine body language and how to spot signs of discomfort from a dog. With the help of their teacher or qualified therapist, the programme has even assisted some children with overcoming severe dog phobia.
Participating schools can attest to the success of the programme, not just in terms of monitored improvements in reading, but in the enthusiasm of the children asking when the dog and volunteer will next visit.
We are supported with our work by The Kennel Club’s Bark & Read Programme.