October 19, 2012
This is the first year our students have been participating in the R.E.A.D. program with therapy dogs. We are lucky to have our R.E.A.D. team visit our school on a weekly basis. I have been teaching for 13 years, and have never had an experience with a therapy dog so I was unsure of what to expect when the team came to work.
The R.E.A.D. team works with a student in my classroom who came from a different school due to the school closing. This student is quite bright academically, but just does not get excited about working and tends to blame not wanting to work on the fact that he is tired or he is hungry or he is bored. I felt like working with the R.E.A.D. team would be a good opportunity for this student academically, but most importantly, emotionally and in building his confidence. Little did I expect the outcomes I have seen!
The team has worked with this boy two times in the last two weeks, and I have noticed a VAST difference. The first week, I introduced him to the handler and his dog and they were off to work for 15 minutes. Upon returning to the classroom, my student was more alert, talked tons, and was so excited to work. I was shocked! This past week they came again to work. This time, I sent some more challenging reading, as well as spelling words to practice. When he returned to our classroom, we were working on writing, as well as I had an associate working with kids. I mentioned to her to watch the difference in this child. Prior to this day, asking this child to write was like “pulling teeth” – he was not motivated, said he was hungry, and flat-out did not want to write the one sentence expected of him. But this day after doing R.E.A.D. was totally different! He came in, sat down, and immediately began writing and participating. He was more alert. He wanted to know how to spell specific words. Most importantly, he was excited about learning! The associate working in my room at the time was shocked! She could not believe it either.
As I stated before, having never worked with a therapy dog, I was unsure of what results would be, but now I know – the results are AMAZING! This R.E.A.D. team, in the small time they have been in my classroom with this one student, has been making a huge difference! My student is so excited when they come – this is his time alone to share, read, and learn. Wow, the outcomes of working with a therapy dog like this one and his reading partner, I am astonished beyond belief and look forward to the rest of the year with this partnership! I hope more kids are able to have this experience!
2nd Grade Teacher