Nor'wester Readers Canine Assisted Learning Program uses registered therapy dogs to enhance the educational environment so that children are motivated to work on their reading, writing, and communication skills. In addition, our therapy dogs are also working with school guidance counselors and psychologists to support students with social and emotional needs.
Dogs are ideal reading and learning companions because they help increase relaxation, listen attentively, do not judge, laugh, or criticize, allow children to proceed at their own pace, and are less intimidating than the students' peers.
Therapy dog handlers/volunteers work with students individually or in small groups under the direction and supervision of the classroom teacher. The handler is a skilled facilitator, shifting performance pressure off the child and providing support as the child receives supervised reading practice necessary to build vocabulary, increase comprehension, and gain fluency as a reader. Unmotivated readers and learners gain motivation, confidence, and discover the joys of becoming a life-long reader and learner at the side of their therapy dog.