Dog is one of the most popular pets and it can be found in many families. The positive effect of communication between children and dogs has been noticed by parents, educators and researchers. Why don’t we introduce dogs into schools then? Somebody will think it is a crazy idea, but there are schools which already use “dogs’ help” for educational purposes. The experience of “Dogs Helping Kids” charity will be outlined here as a successful introduction of dogs into educational environment.
Dogs Helping Kids is a charity organization in the United Kingdom preparing dogs for work in schools and colleges. DHK dogs can be very helpful on their workplaces as classroom assistances. So what benefits do pupils, teachers and parents gain from dogs’ presence in school? Communication with them increases students’ academic achievements, raises their confidence and helps children to cope with stress. All animals are well trained and prepared for particular role. So called “classroom canines” walk around the room during classes; they calm down pupils who feel anxiety and tie all classmates together as a team. It might be considered by some parents as not safety and distracting to have a dog in the classroom. However, results of researches show that presence of dog fortifies children’s active participation in class.
There are some children who are faced with problems in reading, performing in front of the classroom, speaking loudly during discussions. These pupils are lucky to have “listening canines” who are always ready to sit close to the child and listen to him/her. They don’t judge; they don’t criticize; they don’t laugh at. The feeling of confidence is rising in children and they improve reading and writing skills. This practice of reading aloud is crucially important for pupils in primary school. It is significant to develop such practices in different schools and share knowledge with institutions in other countries.
Dogs in education can be considered not only as assistances, but also as rewards. Pupils can play and train with “reward canines” during the break if they showed excellent and outstanding results in classes. Moreover, there are “therapy canines” helping children with psychological problems. These dogs usually spend time with one child, because working in group can be found difficult.
All in all, I want to conclude that the role of animals in children’s life is underestimated. Of course, there can be some problems with dogs in schools, like allergies to wool or fear of dogs in general. Smart leadership can overcome all these issues and find a way to success. I am interested in getting your opinions, dear readers. Do you agree that dogs in schools can be very helpful for pupils and can improve students’ results? Could this practice be useful in Kazakhstani schools? If your children will attend school with dogs assistances, what will be your attitude?
Photo credits: http://www.dogshelpingkids.co.uk/
Dogs Helping Kids. http://www.dogshelpingkids.co.uk/
Jalongo, M. R. (2005). “What Are All These Dogs Doing at School?” Using Therapy Dogs to Promote Children’s Reading Practice. Childhood Education, 81(3), 152.