I just ran across the following article from a Longview, TX newspaper and the idea of using assistance or service dogs to help teach reading. We know how much service dogs help in rehabilitation hospitals and nursing homes and it seemed like an option that schools who have struggling readers might want to consider. Please see the article link below.. Let me know what you think about this idea?
I think it is a wonderful idea! I know how Koby, my son's little beagle, looks at me like he understands every word I say when he is probably hearing "blah, blah, blah, Koby, blah, blah".
One teacher I know asked parents to have their children read to the family pet. Dogs, even turtles, can be very patient listeners. They don't criticize. They simply love the attention.
One librarian I know adopted a long-eared, white rabbit who sat in the library reading pit (a sunken area with comfortable seats) and listened to young readers.
Trained dogs who visit a classroom can be very helpful to struggling young readers. I'm all for what works!
I run the library in a school for children with average to gifted intelligence who have reading disabilities such as dyslexia. We have therapy dog visits all of the time. Our students love to sit and cuddle with the dogs and try to read to them. They have so much more patience when they are trying to read to one of the dogs than when they are just trying to read on their own.
Last year I purchased a star reader poster from Upstart. It has a place for the children to put their head through so that we can take pictures of our star readers. One of the dogs, Hawkeye, a golden lab spent so much time with the children that when the kindergarten class had their pictures taken we took one of him, too. Luckily he is a very patient dog and actually posed for us. He inspires the children to read. When they successfully read a book to Hawkeye they get a picture taken with Hawkeye and the book they read. Their class also gets to take him out to the playground at recess.
I'm so happy to hear about Hawkeye, and especially the positive influence he is having on the children. You know, of course, that service dogs are used for stroke victim who refuse to talk. It has been found that when the victims are left alone with a service dog, they will talk to him/her as has been captured on video tape.
Golden Retrievers and probably Labs can learn up to 300 words and sometimes more which means the dogs can increase their vocabulary also.
Thank you for sharing your library experience with us.
I cannot count the times, that my grandchildren have read to my GS-SD., and the Mini Schnauzer. Also, a friend of mine, that stayed here during the early stage of Alzheimer, would read to Sheba and Jack, as well as do the crossword puzzles with them. I would try to get her motivated to read the newspaper, a short book, or magazine, to no avail. As soon as the dogs sat next to her, she would start reading to them. Prior to staying at my home, she used to call them on the phone.
Sheba is my 100 LB German Shepherd Service Dog. Were it not for Sheba, I would not be back in college at 58 years old, and would be completely home-bound. I have no peripheral vision, My little one, Jack weighs 10 pounds, dripping wet, but acts like he is 10 feet tall. Jack, enjoys watching movies, and speaking on the phone. He says "I love you", when he speaks with my 90 year old mother, and other family. If Jack is not speaking, my mom will say"what's the matter Jack"? Jack reply's;"I don't know". He has quite the vocabulary, which I believe that he learned , while being read to or sitting on the children's lap's.
Sheba loves visiting the ALF's and nursing homes, going to Walmart once a month,and meeting approximately 50-100 new children at a time. Sheba has flown with me, to Texas, Ohio and PA. We have taken many road trips to visit family. Her other favorite place to go is Walgreens, where they keep plenty of doggie biscuits behind the counter for her. She will put her paws up, on the counter, when we go inside, kiss her favorite pharmacist Marty, receive her biscuits, then get a drink from the water fountain. She not only can find people, but she will also show me where we parked the Truck. She loves working, especially in a situation, when she can help a police officer (I have trained her, not to bite, but you would be surprised, at how well a 'bad guy', will stand perfectly still, as she sits and stares at him
Sheba saved us from drowning, in the ocean, when a tidal wave took she and I out to sea. If my sugar is dropping, she will let me know, 15 minutes to a half an hour before I even feel a symptom. After alerting me, she will find the juice aisle, and nudge the apple juice boxes with her nose. At home, she will go to the fridge, to let me know that I need to check my blood sugar, and drink some juice. She will wake me up, and let me know if my blood pressure, or sugar is out of whack, as she either nudges my glucose monitor, or the B/P cuff.. Most things, that she does regarding my health, she does instinctively. She never seizes to amaze me.
Therapy Dogs are an outstanding resource for helping people learn to read. The Lewis School of Princeton has a program called C.A.R.E., which stands for Children and Animals Realizing Education. Through our program we have learned that therapy dogs have an innate ability to sense when a child is reaching his or her frustration level. As a C.A.R.E. team member, our Certified Therapy Dogs are trained to offer support and comfort to students who have reached this point. When a C.A.R.E. dog senses this emotion, he or she will assist the student by quietly approaching him or her, often placing his head in the child’s lap. By this simple action, they are supporting the child and letting him or her know that he or she is loved. The child may take a moment to pet the dog, which studies have shown calms the student immediately. When the student begins to work again, it is usually with renewed vigor and faith in himself.
I have attached the Program Overview if you are interested in learning more.
All I know is that when we have the Reading Night program at school, the service dogs are the biggest draw. It doesn't seem to matter the student's reading level- they love to read to the dogs. And one of their special dogs was old (and deaf)- but he and the kids loved the reading.
In my district, second grade teachers put together a grant that enabled them to have service dogs join them in the school library once a week for a "read aloud". The children were so excited and energized by this opportunity. When I asked teachers about this, they said students gained some fluency, but most especially they built an increased enjoyment for books and reading. I would also imagine that this helped to build their reading stamina, as well...