Every child is different, and developing each individual’s reading ability needs a combination of approaches. There are probably many things you’ve already tried – so how about something you may not have heard of? Reading to therapy dogs is gaining popularity as a way to develop reading ability in children, as well as improve their confidence and social skills.
Studies of therapy dogs in medical settings have proven that interaction with a friendly canine helps to lower blood pressure and stress hormones. This demonstrates that they create a calm and relaxed environment. Dogs can encourage children to read by being non-judgmental and unconditionally supportive. They do not appear to be superior, and do not correct the child as an adult might. The focus of the session becomes the dog, rather than the child, which is valuable for those with self-esteem issues or social anxieties.
Reading therapy dog sessions allow your child to make new, happy associations with reading and speaking aloud. Many parents of children who have undertaken the programs report more motivation and excitement for reading even after the session has finished, as well as increased confidence and communication skills.
More detailed information can be found on the Particular Paws website.
Contributed by freelance writer Jocelyn Brown