Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An End Run on Anxiety

It seems like man's best friend is also a kid-who-is-struggling-to-read's best friend, too.

I heard an interview today with someone from the Humane Society describing a program where dogs help kids learn to read.

I perked my ears up when I heard this...cuz dogs can't read!

The guy says, "It's hard for some kids to read to grown ups or even to other kids. But it's not threatening to read to dogs".

Apparently, they give a dozen kids at a time a chance to come to the Humane Society a coupla times a week for 8 weeks to read to volunteer dogs who come by to be read to.

Sounds hokey right? Not so much, actually.

The results are amazing...some kids increase a grade level in reading.

The more he spoke about it, the more I could imagine how a dog, who will wag his tail with all efforts, and will provide the unconditional positive regard to the child no matter what lowers the risk and increases the safety for the child. When the child is less nervous, performance improves as all the energy can be directed productively towards the reading, without all the static that anxiety creates inside a person.

I love the creativity of this strategy to learning to read...finding novel (pun intended!) ways to help a student focus on the learning task, and not be distracted by the pressure of performance anxiety. Who woulda thunk that dogs could help kids read?

Might be a lesson there somewhere for all the grownups who are feeling the pressure...recession is raising our blood pressure.

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