Sunday, December 26, 2010

How a dog in class can make reading a pet subject


Good listener: Breeze is read a story by nine-year-old Ellen Parker as Karine George, head of Westfields Primary School in Yateley, looks on

Children who don’t like books are being helped to read – by a friendly dog called Breeze who visits their school.

The youngsters sit with a book reading to the dog, and the improvement in their literary skills has astonished teachers.

One little boy who hadn’t spoken in school for two years has been happily sitting down reading aloud to the pet.

The trial of the Read2Dogs scheme, run by the charity Pets As Therapy, has been deemed so successful that it is to be offered to schools nationwide next year. It has been taking place at Westfields Junior School in Yateley, Hampshire, encouraged by head Karine George.

Teacher Debbie Jones said: ‘I didn’t know what to think of the idea when I heard it but you just have to see the confidence the children gain when they read to the dog.’

The school found that all 20 of the pupils who took part in the scheme – all reluctant readers – felt more confident about reading afterwards. While only three of them had regularly read aloud to their parents before the trial, all of them did so afterwards.

Remarkably, 60 per cent of the children improved their reading age by three months or more in just six weeks, and all the pupils’ reading ages advanced by at least two months.

Nine-year-old Ellen Parker has been reading to golden retriever Breeze. She said: ‘I try to think about stories that Breeze might like, interesting ones.

‘I’m reading her a story about a rabbit and a badger who go on a picnic. I think she likes that because it’s about animals.

‘I can tell she’s listening because she wants to have a little stroke when you’re reading; she doesn’t wander around, she sits down.’

source: dailymail

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