Children struggling to learn to read make gains in literacy when they start reading aloud to specially trained dogs and their handlers, according to Jennifer Scarlett, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA.
She says the dogs help the students overcome the reticence they might feel around a teacher, and adds, they also don't correct the way you talk or correct your pronunciations. Many of the students were speaking English as a second or third language or were considered at risk students.
Scarlett writes: "The third- and fourth-graders studied showed progress in so many ways: their confidence grew, their anxieties diminished, and there were fewer classroom outbursts or pupils who had to be excused in the middle of class time. Some ADHD children seemed to get better at just sitting still. Best of all, the students who read with the dogs showed an interest in practicing reading and began to look forward to it."