Does your child need to improve at their reading skills? Do you need an activity that can occupy your child and your family pet at the same time? Ask your child to read to your family pet. This simple idea is what I proposed to a neighbor of mine with her children home from school, a new puppy to care for and an older dog who didn’t want to take on the new responsibility to train the newcomer. It was a no brainer to keep the kids and her dogs busy all at the same time.
An excellent way to get your children to practice and improve their reading skills is to get them to read to the family pet. The comfortable environment of home and the comfort of their pet beside them makes it much easier for children to read aloud to pets rather than in front of classmates because there will be no embarrassment if any mistakes occur.
Children who read to their pets have been reported to have a greater enjoyment of reading than those children who did not read to family pets.
The idea to read to pets, to dogs especially, is not new. There are libraries all over the world that have this very program in place. Most of the dogs in these programs are therapy-certified, meaning they have passed obedience and temperament tests. The pets have previous volunteer experience and receive regular veterinary care. There is often a separate area in the library sectioned off for this program so that it will not prevent others from browsing the aisles nor getting to close to animals in case some customers have allergies to pets.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of reading with pets (dogs, cats, rabbits) try contacting your local library which may have the program already in place or check out www.southwesthealthline.ca , the website may offer information about a local non-profit group that can offer these types of literacy programs. If you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering with a literacy program contact R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) an organization devoted to providing therapy dogs for the use of promoting literacy, you can read more at www.ottawatherapydogs.ca. Or, if you are interested in more insight into local school programs that offer reading with dogs contact www.sja.ca (St. John Ambulance), Hanover office for information about their Paws 4 Reading program.