Therapy dogs have been used for a wide variety of things but this week a special group of therapy dogs have been getting quite a bit of attention. The dogs are part of a national group called R.E.A.D. which stands for reading education assistance dogs and from the name it is pretty obvious what their purpose is. Surprisingly these reading assistance dogs have been quite effective according to many teachers.
Across the country these specially trained dogs have been visiting schools to help children learn to read and further develop their reading skills. The idea of using dogs to help children develop better reading skills began in 1999 and ever since then the project has been gaining steam all across the United States.
The dogs are basically used as a reading partner, meaning that children will sit with these therapy dogs and just read to them rather than a teacher or peer. The concept is that dogs are not judgmental or critical of the students and as a result children are much more open to reading to them.
Reading dogs are being used in hundreds of elementary schools around the country and overall nearly all teachers agree that they are remarkably effective. Everyone from students with learning disabilities to children who are simply shy or intimidated enjoy reading to the dogs and overall teachers say basically all of the students show significant improvement after reading with the dogs. Amazingly the program has also begun expanding by using other animals as well; though at this time it is in the early stages.