4 Reasons Reading to Dogs Benefits Kids
With millions of students learning from home, parents may have an unlikely teaching assistant closer than they think. A mounting body of research shows that there are benefits to kids when they read to dogs.
Not only do our furry friends enjoy the companionship but kids can strengthen their confidence and interest in reading, too. Here are four reasons to consider incorporating your family pet into your child’s reading routine.
1. Improves Reading Abilities
Reading to a dog may improve reading abilities, specifically reading fluency (the ability to read accurately and smoothly and quickly comprehend the content).
In fact, this practice is particularly effective among home-schooled students.1
So, given the number of students who are suddenly experiencing a version of home-schooling, this may be a timely addition to reading lessons!
2. Helps Make Kids Comfortable
For students who currently experience reading as an activity that makes them feel “self-conscious, clumsy and uncomfortable” 1, adding a dog can create an environment of “happiness and safety.”
This is likely because dogs offer a comforting, non-judgmental presence. Students reported feeling more “relaxed and confident” about reading after experiencing reading to a dog.
3. Improves Sentiments Towards Reading
Children in reading-to-dog programs show an increase in their enjoyment of reading and motivation to read overall, even when a dog isn’t present.
As a result, in one study, 18 percent of children reported spending more time reading for pleasure because of their participation.2
4. Helps Build Self-Confidence
Reading to a dog has been demonstrated to improve the child’s confidence in areas outside of reading.
For example, increased involvement in school activities and decreased absenteeism in students was seen in one study after they had participated in a reading-to-dogs program.3
Worried about your lesson plan? Well, there’s good news. Evidence shows us that unstructured programs (e.g., your daughter simply reading to Fluffy on the couch in your living room) may confer the same benefits as more structured programs involving specially trained dogs and facilitators.
While there haven’t yet been any studies done on whether dogs like being read to, anecdotal reports suggest that they do, explains Dr. Annie Valuska, Purina Pet Behavior Scientist. It helps kids practice reading, builds empathy for pets and socializes our furry friends So, there’s no reason not to try it out with your own pet.
2. Shannon, M. A. R. Y. (2007). The benefits of children reading to dogs in public libraries and after school centers: An exploratory study. Unpublished master’s thesis). City University of New York, Queens College, Flushing, NY. Retrieved from http://readtothedogs. org/READthesis. pdf.
3. Martin, S. (2001). READ is a pawsitive program for kids of all ages. Interactions, 19(3), 7-8.