Dogs aren’t just furry companions for your home. They are being used across the country to help kids learn to read.
Reading is a lifelong skill that some kids struggle with. It can be frustrating for teachers and parents but mostly for the struggling kids. Schools are implementing countless reading programs to help our youngsters learn to love indulging in a good book. This is not only because reading rocks, but because it’s vital for living and working in the 21st Century.
Story Dogs is a volunteer reading support program for students 7-8 years old, with cuddly canines travelling to schools (with their two-legged volunteer friends and some great book titles in tow) for kids to read to/with. Story Dogs are helping more than 1500 kids each week at 153 schools across the country. Story Dogs has recently partnered with Volunteering Services Australia to expand the organisation and focus on the core mission ‘To make reading fun for children, so they become confident lifelong readers.’
Story Dogs co-founder and managing director Janine Sigley says it’s incredibly gratifying knowing Story Dogs can make a difference to a child’s reading.
“When a child reads to a dog, the results are amazing,” Janine says. “It’s non-judgmental – the child’s focus improves, literacy skills increase and confidence soars. This program is magical.”
While the Story Dogs can’t make it out to every school across the country, it doesn’t mean your kids can’t benefit from the theory behind the program. With an estimated 25 million pets in Australia, your kids could try reading to your family’s dog (or cat, snake or even your guinea pig – we don’t discriminate!).
Man’s best friend
Dogs are ideal reading partners for so many reasons:
- Dogs promote relaxation and lower blood pressure
- Dogs don’t judge when kids make mistakes
- Dogs can’t laugh or criticise the young reader – they just sit and listen quietly
- Dogs allow kids to read at their own pace, regardless of how slow they are