Improving Reading with Therapy Dogs

Can man’s best friend be any more loveable? It would appear so.

As mentioned in a previous article, Regal is very proud to have partnered with Pets as Therapy South Africa (PAT), a non-profit organisation that facilitates therapeutic visits from pet owners to people in hospitals, retirement homes, frail care facilities and special needs homes to name a few. One of the additional projects PAT is involved in is the Lees – Ukufunda – READ programme which aims to improve the reading skills of children by, you guessed it, reading to an animal, usually dogs.

 

Sounds odd? Not at all. Children with speech impediments or confidence issues find it much easier and less stressful reading to a dog who is sitting attentively and making no judgements. Not only does this boost self-esteem, and improve reading and communication skills, it also encourages a love for reading, and let’s face it – it’s fun! As well as improving the child’s reading, children inherently love dogs, and spending this quality time with them will give them a deeper understanding and empathy for animals.

 

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) programme was pioneered in Salt Lake City in the USA in 1999, and today, thousands of registered READ teams work across the globe improving the lives of children through the programme. All READ companions are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions to children.

Keen to get involved?

  1. If you are not already registered as a PAT volunteer, register via their website (form available here).
  2. If you are already a PAT volunteer, you can attend one of the ad hoc workshops that take place throughout the year. Visit the READ Workshops page to see when the next one is happening or email Dr Marieanna le Roux for further information at mclr@sun.ac.za

 

In the words of the former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers, READ is one of those ideas that “pierces the mundane to arrive at the marvellous.”

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