Tail Waggin’ Tutors is a program offered by Therapy Dogs International that utilizes a dog and handler volunteer team in a school setting. Children, often having difficulty finding the confidence to read aloud, get to read to a dog. The dog encourages a relaxed environment, free of stress and judgement by their peers.
Last week, John and I took Max and Grace to South Central Elementary School in Elizabeth, IN for our first afternoon of Tail Waggin’ Tutors. John and I set up in separate corners of the library and each student was brought in turn and instructed to choose 2 books. We spent 20-30 minutes with each student quietly reading and petting the dog they were paired up with. We saw four students each over the 2 hours we visited. John and I listened and helped when needed, we talked about the illustrations, and they asked about our dogs. But the overarching idea was that they take their time. They sounded out the hard words and seemed to really enjoy reading the words they already did know. It has been such a long time since I have thought about the act of reading. It truly is a feat for these children to be proud of. They clearly take enjoyment in their new found talents. It is amazing to see them laugh at a joke or a funny story they read in a book. They are learning and reading. Amazing. I am astounded at what a person can forget when they don’t get to spend time around children.
Although it is nearly the end of the school year at South Central Elementary, we are glad that we have had the opportunity for a trial run of the reading program. They were very pleased with how the afternoon went and are really looking forward to setting up a regular schedule next fall! There is also a second elementary school in the area that has requested Tail Waggin’ Tutors. We hope to be able to schedule visits at both schools on the same day as they are only 15 minutes apart.
The concept is simple, and the outcome is astounding. This is a wonderful program and we are proud and excited to be a part of it.