Your family pet can help improve your child’s reading score

RIVERSIDE COUNTY – It turns out dogs are not only good for our health; finding missing people; and helping disabled people live independent lives – they’re good for kids’ report cards, too.

A University of California study showed that children who read to the family dog improved their 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, coauthor with his wife, Linda, of the children’s book, “Shellie, the Magical Dog.”

Amiri discusses five reasons why dogs help kids learn to love reading:

No embarrassment. “Most of us have memories of reading out loud in class,” he 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.” Dogs are excellent for unconditional, nonjudgmental love; they won’t laugh if and when mistakes happen.

Polite listeners. Like humans, dogs are social creatures and most enjoy the sound of a calm voice speaking to them. Many – except perhaps the most energetic breeds – seem to enjoy curling up on a rug and listening to a story being read aloud. They don’t interrupt (except for the occasional ear scratch or to sniff a body part) and they often show appreciation for the attention.

A fun approach to schoolwork. Too often, when children think of studying, they think of time spent hunched over a desk struggling alone to work out problems and memorize lists. Interacting with a lovable, fuzzy friend for an hour of homework is an appealing alternative.

Win-win. A canine-student reading program is a great way to help service dogs-in-training learn patience and discipline. Dogs are trained to help veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, the blind, and people who use wheelchairs, among others. These dogs in training help children, while children improve a dog’s service abilities.

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