We had our first Reading Dogs sessions this week! Thank you to our Grade 1 and 2 classes for being our first groups and helping us learn all about how Reading Dogs work. The students had a wonderful time and did a super job reading and interacting with the dogs. We were very proud of our students reading skills, compassion and model behavior.
Each class visited the library and divided into three groups. The students selected two or three just-right books to read and came ready with their books in hand. Each small group was made up of six or seven students. We sat in a small circle on the floor and our reading dog and the handler joined us. The first five minutes were spent getting to know our new reading buddies. Students asked questions about the dogs' likes and dislikes, age, diet, experiences and travel. For example, “Is Ginger a boy or a girl? How old is Tess? What does Millie like to do for fun? How long has Ginger been a reading dog?”
When then began our reading. Working in partnerships, students read to the doggie companions. Students instinctively turned their books toward the dogs inside the circle. While their friends read, the other students in the group gently pet and enjoyed the dogs. We asked each other some questions about our reading and then moved to the next partner group - all students got a chance to read. Students were relaxed and attentive, happy and focused.
The last 5 minutes of our session were for asking more questions, petting, snuggling and saying thank you and good-bye! A couple of the dog handlers also gave treats for the students to give the dogs as a reward for their good behavior.
We can't wait for our next visit with our adorable reading friends. All grade levels will gave an opportunity to participate in January and February. Stay tuned for more information on the detailed schedule of classes.
Learn more about the benefits of the Reading Dogs program from Dubai-based company, The Animal Agency. An article from the Washington Post shares some experiences of students in a reading dog program in the United States: Baltimore children practice reading with dogs, learn compassion for animals