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"Sometimes on Wednesdays, there is a dog that visits school to help students to feel confident about reading by reading to dogs, which does sound weird at first, but it isn't and not a single person hasn't liked Digery!" Kyle Paisey, Year 7
We have recently been visited by Pets As Therapy as part of a “Read2Dogs” project. Research shows that young people can become nervous and stressed when reading aloud to others. However, when a Pet’s As Therapy (PAT) dog joins group, they often become less stressed, less self-conscious and more confident because, of course, the dogs are non-judgemental.
At the beginning of November, PAT representative Josie and her playful but friendly Cocker Spaniel Digory joined Year 7 students Kyle Paisey and Terry Close as they practiced their reading skills. The boys thoroughly enjoyed Digory’s company; they felt his presence made reading more fun and relaxing.
Literacy and Numeracy Intervention Assistant, Mrs Siobhan Hanna said, "Instead of feeling scrutinised by adults, the boys could make the experience their own. It became something between just them and the dog which made everyone more relaxed and engaged than they might be when reading to an adult."
Assistant Headteacher, Mrs Leanne Mills organised the visit, she said, “I have a real love of reading, but of course, I am aware that not everyone shares my passion for a variety of reasons. With the Read2Dogs programme, children can gain confidence whilst reading to a pet that isn’t judging their ability.”
Founded in 1983, Pets As Therapy is a national charity that aims to enhance health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals. Haygrove School are planning further sessions with Pets As Therapy, offering more students the opportunity to gain confidence with their reading. PAT volunteer Josie was delighted with experience and commented, “The two boys we met that read were very well behaved, polite and showed confidence as readers. Digory went straight to his basket when we got time, clearly tired out from his fun experience!”