The Read Dog program at Willard School began in January 2021 with six participants. It now has nine students throughout the day, and all participants have shown an increase in their fluency and accuracy. One student started in January at a reading level C and, by March, was performing with 98% accuracy at level E. The read dogs are Dodger, Ory and Willow.
Read Dog students have increased their ability to read aloud and have become more confident in their reading. Many readers report that they are reading at home with their own dogs now, because they realize that dogs appreciate the attention. The students report that they look forward to reading to the dogs. They feel more comfortable with the dogs and are learning to be more comfortable with the teachers who are present with the dogs.
The Read Dogs provide an anxiety-reducing, stress-relieving, calming factor in many at-risk students’ days. They enhance and improve communication skills as students are encouraged to discuss their read-aloud with their reading partners.
Some days, reading takes a back seat to social emotional needs. Once those needs are met, they jump right back in and get to work again.
There has been much success and growth with the Read Dogs in our school. School administrators hope to continue next year and to include more students. The pandemic has complicated things a bit, but they are working out the kinks. The goal is to create a functional and beneficial program that is impactful to the students involved.
This report was adapted from the “News From Sanford School Department” presentation at this week’s School Committee meeting. You can see the entire PowerPoint presentation here.