Kona, Our School Dog
Educational Assistance dogs have been working in schools for the past 5 years in the UK but have been commonplace in schools across Australia and the USA for many years now.The entire school community is very excited by the arrival of Kona, our new ‘school dog’. Kona is a ‘Cavapoochon’ who is owned by Mrs McCabe-Arnold and is currently being trained as an Educational Assistance dog. Numerous research studies have shown the benefits of therapy dogs in schools, which include:
- Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing
- Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others
- Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety.
- Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses
- Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
Empirical evidence has shown that Educational Assistance dogs can enhance children’s psychological development, improve social skills, and increase self-esteem among other benefits. Dogs in the classroom can be used to calm fears, relieve anxiety, and teach skills. In particular School dogs are used to listen to children read. Reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dog’s presence has on children as well as the fact that a dog will listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence to read aloud.
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