At Hatfield Woodhouse we are very lucky to have access to a reading dog. At our school we value reading and understand it is a life skill but can also provide such enjoyment and entertainment. We work hard in Foundation stage with phonics and letter sounds to give all pupils the best start to word recognition and reading. Children with the support from home and school continue with their flunecy in reading and move onto comprehension skills such as prediction and explaining authors choice of vocabulary and the impact on the reader.
However, some of our pupils find reading very tricky and difficult for many reasons but this can make them frustrated and nervouse about reading. This is where using the reading dog benifits these individual pupils. Lila our reading dog, works for a charity called "Pets as therapy" and is part of the "read2dogs" Scheme. She is calm and nurturing, she is non critical but gives so much back to the pupils with attentive listening and bark for well done. Once a week Lila and her handlers come into school and spend quality time listening to pupils read in small groups and on a one to one basis, this is helping to develop their confidence as readers..
Reasearch has shown children, especially those who struggle, can be nervous and stressed when reading aloud in class.The Bark and Read Programme, run by the Kennel Club, says overcoming fear and fostering a love of reading can be a first step to improving literacy. Dogs can play a key role in this, it argues, as they are non-judgemental, attentive and perfect listeners.
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."
If you would like to find more information out about readings dogs please follow this link http://petsastherapy.org/what-we-do/read2dogs/