Introducing Kate - The School Dog

14 September 2017

Meet our wonderful School Dog – ‘KATE’

For a number of months Mr Willmoth and Mr Kettle have discussed the benefits of a school dog.  Over the summer of 2017, Kate a Labrador Retriever, joined Mr Kettle’s family and has been busy learning lots of things, so that she is ready to come into school.

                

Kate’s role in school will be varied. Once she is fully trained she may ‘chill out’ in the classroom whilst the children are having their lessons.

Research studies in both Britain and America have concluded that having a dog in a school classroom can have many positive benefits – these include helping to calm children down, improve academic achievement, motivate those children who are often not that attentive, teach responsibility and encourage children to respect all life. Also, it has been shown that when children share the affection and care of a ‘class’ dog, a bond forms among them and strengthens their team ethics.

Kate will also hear children read. Dogs give unconditional acceptance, as they are non-judgmental, which is especially crucial to struggling, emerging readers. She will provide confidence to children as they do not make fun of them when they read, but above all she will make an amazing listener, providing the children with a sense of comfort and love. In America, the ‘Read’ Dogs, as they are known, have proved through research that children who read to these dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and write, and an increase in intra and interpersonal skills among the children they mix with.  I am sure that our children will be very excited about teaching Kate to ‘read’. Kate will be trained to look at the book as children read to her and they can use their reading skills to teach Kate.

At the moment, Kate is in training and learning her manners: how to greet people, where and when she can play and when she needs to be calm and quiet, what to chew (and what not to chew!). Whilst this process continues, she will gradually start visiting classrooms on the lead, sitting in assemblies and getting used to school routines.

Initially, Kate will spend most of her time in one of the offices in the school and will be introduced to school life slowly. She was chosen for her calm, loving temperament and the school will continuing to monitor this to ensure she continues to be an appropriate dog to be in school

We understand that it is not possible for all families to have a family dog and therefore, we are delighted to provide the opportunity for children at Vale View to have a ‘share’ in a dog and gain from the relationship and contact on a regular basis.

There are a number of school dogs already in post locally and around the country. I am sure you will agree that this is an exciting opportunity for the school, but may have some questions. Outlined below is some more information about having a school dog.

What are the benefits of a school dog?

  • A calming effect on pupils, particularly those with behavioural or learning difficulties

  • Encouraging expression and participation in more withdrawn children

  • Fostering a sense of responsibility

  • Improved behaviour, attendance and concentration, reduced stress and improved self- esteem

  • Motivating pupils to think and to learn, as most children have a high level of natural interest in, enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of animals

  • Encouraging respect and thereby improving pupils’ relationships with each other, parents and teachers

  • Teaching children to nurture and respect life

  • Helping work undertaken with the most vulnerable children, and educational improvements with lower achievers

  • Helping children build confidence in reading – http://www.theguardian.com/education/2011/feb/28/dogs-listen-to-children-reading

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