Education Blog

How A Canine Classmate Can Help DC Children Read

Have you ever thought about using a dog to boost your child’s literacy skills? While 32 million American’s cannot read, 50% of U.S. adults cannot even read an eighth-grade level book. These shocking figures only go to show how important it is to ensure that DC children have the skills to not just read, but also enjoy doing so. But a number of studies have shown that encouraging children to read to a dog develops their literacy skills, helps them concentrate on their learning and builds their confidence. 

Health Benefits of Dogs for Kids and Adults

The benefits of spending time with a dog are not just significant for a child’s reading and learning. Both children and adults can experience a number of health benefits including lower blood pressure and anxiety levels, thanks to a drop in the stress hormone, cortisol. A study by Washington State University found that encouraging students to spend time with dogs reduced their stress levels and helped to stop them from dropping out. The weekly, one-hour sessions saw students feel more relaxed, accepted and improved their concentration. Dogs have even become a regular feature in many workplaces. A number of employers now allow staff to bring their dogs to work to help create a more positive, relaxed and productive working environment. People feel more motivated to work with their canine around, not to mention the emotional benefits at hand are endless.

How Dogs Help Children Read

Reading aloud to a dog for just 10 minutes can improve children’s reading by at least 12%, while using a reading dog could raise literacy by at least two grades.  Having a dog around creates a non-threatening and calm environment for children to read in. When a child reads to a dog they feel less self-conscious about their developing skills and feel safer to make mistakes. Of course, the unconditional love that a dog also helps to make a child feel happier and more positive too. When reading aloud to a dog, children will generally feel less anxious and more focused and engaged with the activity.  A good experience with a reading dog will likely provide a long-lasting impression. 

Reading To Dogs at Home And School

Dog reading programs for schools work by bringing specially trained dogs into the school for the children to read to. The dogs are trained to not growl, bark, jump or bite, or do anything that could frighten children. The dogs simply sit quietly while the children read to them. Parents can also use this technique at home. If your dog is well-trained and well-behaved, you can encourage your child to regularly read to them to develop their confidence and reading skills. The dog will also enjoy having the child’s undivided attention too.

If you want to boost your child’s reading skills or help to build their reading confidence, ask your child’s school about the dog reading programs. A canine classmate or even a hound helper at home can make a huge difference to your child’s reading ability and the pleasure they get from reading. 

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