What is R.E.A.D.?
The Reading Education Assistance Dogs program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a dog. But not just any dog. R.E.A.D. dogs are registered therapy animals that volunteer with their handler as a team, going to schools, libraries, and many other settings as reading companions for children.
Intermountain Therapy Animals launched R.E.A.D. in 1999 as the first comprehensive literacy program built around the idea of reading to dogs, and the program has been spreading ever since.
Dogs On Call, Inc. has been a R.E.A.D. affiliate since 2004.
How Does It Work?
R.E.A.D. utilizes registered therapy animals that have been trained and tested for health, safety, appropriate skills and temperament. When these animals come to hear children read, it’s fun and that makes all the difference!
But Why Dogs?
Learning to read is often less about intellectual limitation than about overcoming fears. Animals are ideal reading companions because they:
- Help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure.
- Listen attentively.
- Do not laugh, judge, or criticize.
- Allow children to proceed at their own pace.
- Are less intimidating than peers.
When a R.E.A.D. dog is listening, the environment is transformed, a child’s dread is replaced by eager anticipation, and learning occurs. The handler is a skilled facilitator, too, shifting performance pressure off the child and providing support, while the child gets the supervised reading practice necessary to build vocabulary, increase understanding of the material, and gain fluency as a reader.
The Results Are Significant
Participating kids make enormous strides in reading and communication skills while, along the way, building self-esteem, confidence, and social skills. And there are bonus benefits – performance in other subjects tends to improve, as does attendance and even personal hygiene.
To learn more about R.E.A.D go to: www.therapyanimals.org
If this sounds like a good fit for you and your therapy animal, plan on attending a R.E.A.D. workshop taught by our licensed R.E.A.D. Instructors!
Contact: R.E.A.D. Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos Courtesy of Willow Valley Photography.