23 Mar Slice of Life: How Do You Teach Fun, Warmth and Unconditional Love? #T4TMoments #SOL17
Have you ever heard of an animal assisted therapy program? We had the privilege of seeing one in action at a school recently. This elementary school has an animal assisted therapy program as part of the guidance department. They did not implement this in response to a crises or tragedy, it is just the way they do business.
The dog visits classrooms, walks in the hallways and has some children he visits every day. Research shows there are many ways a therapy dog can make a difference in a child’s life, including improving self-image and sense of competence, increasing socialization and motivation to learn, nurturing a sense of responsibility, helping a child express feelings of distress, as well as providing an endless source of fun, warmth and unconditional love.
He welcomed us as soon as we arrived and checked in on us throughout the day. It was wonderful to see the reactions of the students when he joined reader’s workshop or found a spot on the meeting rug. He seemed to know who to snuggle and who to pass by. We wondered about children who were afraid of dogs and the counselor shared that having him as a member of the community really helps them get comfortable with animals. They do need to be careful of allergies – but she shared that was easy to handle.
While we admit we may have been a bit swayed on the idea due to our love of dogs … we also loved the idea of a program like this being a part of the daily routine of the school. So often we provide supports in response to a problem – this was recognizing we all have days when we need an extra bit of care or connection. It was lovely to see a school think about best practices instructionally and the broader needs of students. They have a vision of growth that is beyond standards, numbers and levels. A mentor teaching move indeed!