Reading out loud can be a scary prospect when you’re still mastering the basics.
Which is why dogs have been drafted into schools to listen to children as they practise.
The Bark & Read Foundation, funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, is taking specially trained support dogs into schools around the country to listen to children to read.
The foundation says children can be nervous and stressed when reading to others in a group and that dogs are the perfect listeners because they provide comfort and encourage positive social behaviour. They also enhance self-esteem, motivate speech and inspire children to have fun and enjoy the experience of reading.
Tony Nevett, who founded the programme, says: “This works really well with kids. The dog doesn’t judge or criticise and so it helps to build self-esteem as well.
“The children sit down and stroke the dog and this lowers their blood pressure. They feel in a relaxed and comfortable state.”
He adds: “We do this a lot with special needs pupils. They can sit there and spell out the words with them and the child knows the dog can’t spell!”
Lynda Morgan, principal of Mayfields School in Corby, Northamptonshire, for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, said the dogs also have a therapeutic effect on her pupils.
Talking to the BBC, she said: “About 70% of the children at our school have difficulty with literacy. It can be speaking or reading. They go into the library with Danny and simply read to him. Their self-esteem has come on tremendously and their reading ages have come on too.
“There is a therapeutic effect too, which helps children get over any emotional trouble if something has gone wrong during the school day.
“Every school should have one.”
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MadeForMums Writer – Jessica Gibb