I recently connected with Sally Collins who is a freelance education writer with a daughter who isn’t a confident reader. She shared this story with me and I instantly felt compelled to share it with you. It’s ultimate aim is to foster a society of readers and what better way to get it going but with the help of an adorable dog! I hope you enjoy this article. — Abby
How Dogs are Helping Kids Get Up to Speed with Their Reading
Dogs are the surprise addition to literacy efforts in schools across the world. Since Intermountain Therapy Animals launched the READ Program – short for Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in 1999, more and more organizations are training dogs to help children to read. This is important because over 796 million people around the world cannot read and this is thought to cost the global economy $1.2 trillion a year in lost income.
A Personal Story
Reading does not come easily to everyone. We all learn in different ways and at different speeds. Today, I am a fast speed reader, and can skim through documents at a rapid pace while getting a good grip of all the important points and nuances. However, as a child, reading was a real struggle for me and led to some bullying from classmates when asked to read aloud.
Having mild dyslexia meant that some words were misread and sometimes I’d have tracking problems. A tracking problem is when you get to the end of a line in a book or sheet of paper and get lost, so you might go up a few lines, go down a few lines, or re-read the same line thinking you’ve gone down to the next one.
It was difficult to learn to read with confidence and took many years. When recently we found out my daughter has a similar problem, we were naturally worried that she would be bullied too. However, in fact, teachers now have better training and resources to deal with this problem. Instead of writing her off, they suggested she enjoy a daily reading time slot with a chocolate Labrador owned by one of teachers.
How Reading Dogs Help
Reading dogs like Sarge are a friendly and calming presence for the student with a reading problem. They provide a safe space for them to
read aloud without being judged or mocked. Reading dogs are trained to be relaxed, affectionate, and to passively encourage students to work through their reading problems and engage more with reading. The results are amazing. They include:
- Reduced anxiety
- More engagement with reading
- More confidence in reading aloud
- Better social relations with fellow students
- A growing love of reading and books in general
It is clear that when taking the first steps in reading it is better to walk before you run. Speed will come with confidence and skill. For my daughter, that means a good and encouraging reading environment, and it seems to me dogs are the perfect aide.
Sally Collins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and traveling as much as possible. You can check out her original article here.