Some fantastic research has shown that the benefits of dogs can go beyond being good friends – they can help kids learn how to read. This article goes into detail about how, but a University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine did research on kids reading to dogs vs. kids not reading to dogs, and overall effect on reading. I think it would behoove us adults to learn from the techniques used by the dogs, so that we can be as effective (or better) than our four-legged friends.
The reasearch showed that kids reading to dogs had both improvements in both fluency and speed of reading. How did this happen with kids? The children reported:
- The dogs made them feel more relaxed
- The dog didn’t care or judge them if they made mistakes
- It was more ‘fun’
Kids reported a boost in self-confidence, worth, and esteem. So while this is fantastic research about dogs and the benefit of animals on health and wellbeing, I think it also should serve as a lesson to other kids or adults teaching reading or other life skills; be patient and non-judgemental. Perhaps the dogs in this study are not just teaching kids how to read – they are teaching people how to treat kids learning to grow up in this world. In any event, enjoy!