Why your child should read to your dog

March 07, 2014

Guest Blog for Explorelearning.co.uk from Fiona Firth, Head Nutritionist at Burns Pet Nutrition

Burns Pet Nutrition is a proud sponsor of organisation that helps young children learn to read with the help of their canine companion – the READ programme. The programme was founded in 1999 and has helped countless children across the UK and around the globe learn to read.  There’s been a significant amount of evidence to show that children reading to their four legged friends can have a beneficial impact on their reading, development and confidence. For any Explore Learning members’ parents keen to give it a try! This is why it works so well:

Dogs listen: Many children learning to read struggle with confidence.  Let’s face it, reading to their teacher, peers or aloud in school assembly can be incredibly daunting. Naturally, nerves and anxiety can get in the way. Children can be very self-conscious of looking silly if they falter or make mistakes.

This is why dogs are their perfect listeners! Children love their family pets and pets love their company, making them a great team for hours on end. Your dog isn’t going anywhere, he has all the time in the world, taking the pressure off any child that is taking their time to learn. All the practise, will help boost shy children’s self-esteem and gradually translate to the classroom.

They don’t judge: Your dog won’t mind, react and certainly won’t laugh if your child makes a mistake. They are familiar and unthreatening and your dog has no expectations. Your child will feel secure and relaxed in the knowledge that there are no consequences or interruptions. This also provides a great opportunity for them to work it all out for themselves which can be quite empowering.

They are always affectionate: Dogs are accepting and affectionate all of the time.  Even if it is all going terribly wrong, they’re unmoving in their affection, acceptance and attention. Your dog will never feel frustrated or disappointed in their reading session. Your dog’s behaviour is consistent whether your child’s reading is successful or challenged they will receive the same unswerving and rewarding affection.  This is a great comfort and motivation to any child that will no doubt have good and bad days as they progress with their learning.

So if your child is feeling shy about their reading, try teaming them up with the dog. You may be surprised by the results! The success of the READ programme proves this really is an effective method for many children. The project that was developed in America by Intermountain Therapy Animals has been adopted throughout the world. To find out more visit the website www.therapyanimals.org/ and to find out more about Burns Pet Nutrition visit http://burnspet.co.uk/.

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