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How reading to dogs is good for your children's education

Learn how having your kids read to your family pet can boost their reading ability.

Do you ever find your daughter playing school with your family dog as the class pet? Does your son insist on reading books to your pup before bed? Pets make great students but they can also make your kids better students. Husband and wife team Michael and Linda Amiri know the educational value dogs have and have published the children's book Shellie, the Magical Dog, to encourage kids to sit down with their pawed pals and open book after book.
Do you ever find your daughter playing school with your family dog as the class pet? Does your son insist on reading books to your pup before bed? Pets make great students but they can also make your kids better students. Husband and wife team Michael and Linda Amiri know the educational value dogs have and have published the children's book Shellie, the Magical Dog, to encourage kids to sit down with their pawed pals and open book after book.

Canines can improve your kiddo's reading ability

The results of a Minnesota pilot project called PAWSitive Readers found that trained therapy dogs can help grade-school participants improve their reading skills by one grade level. Additionally, a University of California study showed that children who read to the family dog improved their reading ability by an average of 12 percent.

“Dogs not only help children learn to read, they help children learn to love reading,” says Michael Amiri. “And that’s true of for children with and without learning disabilities.” He shares the reasons your kids should read to the furry family member.

Reasons to read to a dog

There is no embarrassment

Dogs are excellent for unconditional, nonjudgmental love; they won’t laugh if and when mistakes happen. “Most of us have memories of reading out loud in class,” Amiri says. “Though we may have been proficient readers, the fear of stumbling on a word in front of everyone was a constant source of anxiety.”

Reading to a canine can boost confidence

“I never had a dog while growing up, which is too bad because I think I would have had an easier time gaining self-confidence,” says Amiri. As an adult, he discovered the many benefits of dogs through he and his wife’s very special Maltese, Shellie. She’s often the center of attention in their community at pet-friendly restaurants, where she laps her water out of a martini glass. And she has a full-time job as the greeter at Linda’s hair and nail salon. “If a little dog can give me, a grown man, more confidence, imagine what it can do for kids,” he adds.

Pups are polite listeners

Does your furry friend hound your family for attention, scratches behind the ears, and long hugs? Like humans, dogs are social creatures and most enjoy the sound of a calm voice speaking to them. With the exception of some of the most energetic breeds, most dogs seem to enjoy curling up on a rug and listening to a story being read aloud. They don’t interrupt and they often show appreciation for the attention.

Dogs can make homework easier

Your family pet can make homework more enjoyable for your child. If your children struggle to get through their work, introducing Fido to the equation can make homework not just more fun for them but also more productive. Interacting with a lovable, fuzzy friend for an hour of homework is an appealing alternative to hunching over a book or keyboard.

Seeking out a service dog can be rewarding

Amiri sees a canine-student reading program as a great way to help service dogs-in-training learn patience and discipline. If your family doesn't have a dog, you can seek out dogs in your community that need paws-on training. Service dogs are trained to help veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, the blind, and people who use wheelchairs, among so many others. Reading to and spending time with service dogs can help your children improve their reading skills while it improves the dog's service abilities which can then help other people in need.

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