At some point in our lives, most of us have probably experienced anxiety about reading aloud to a group. It can be especially nerve-wracking for young friends who are still working on expanding their vocabulary and speaking out to their peers. In that moment, what we need is a patient listener and a treasured friend to help us practice. Who could be better for the job than a dog?
The Newton Montessori School Library has recently implemented an optional “Paws to Read” program for elementary students. This program allows students to practice their oral reading skills with a trained therapy dog. Destiny is a 10-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever, and she has been working with her owner, Peg, for several years in a public library before joining us at NMS. Peg says, “It’s lovely to be working here with the NMS children. Destiny and I are truly enjoying ourselves, and the students are delightful.”
Children have the opportunity to take turns reading to Destiny for approximately 15 minutes during classroom work time once a week. Students may choose their own material to read, or they may select a book from the Library. The program offers a supportive environment to encourage and motivate reluctant readers and improve oral reading fluency and accuracy in a private setting. Students also benefit from learning more about dogs and pet ownership.
Here is what students are saying about their time with Destiny:
“Destiny is super nice, calm, and loving.” —Gibran
“I like reading to Destiny.” —Luke
“Destiny always listens with her ears when I read.” —Ryan
“Sometimes when I read to my classmates, I get confused and lose focus—but Destiny listens really well to me, so that doesn’t happen.” —Zoe
Destiny has become a very popular addition to the school, and the students look forward to her arrival every Tuesday. This week, a Beginners class had the opportunity to meet Destiny when they came up to the Library for a visit. The Beginners all had a wonderful time learning more about the Library Dog!
Below: A Beginner student and Peg feed Destiny a treat!