Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: How Do You Teach Fun, Warmth and Unconditional Love? #T4TMoments #SOL17
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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!



  • Avatar
    john re
    Posted at 10:05h, 23 March Reply

    cool idea
    fav line
    He seemed to know who to snuggle and who to pass by.

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    Margaret Simon
    Posted at 10:15h, 23 March Reply

    I have seen a therapy dog at the funeral home, but never in a school. What a novel idea. The students must feel a sense of security with him around.

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    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 11:37h, 23 March Reply

    What a great idea this is. I remember my mother-in-law’s assisted living facility bringing in therapy dogs from time to time, but it wasn’t an every day thing. The residents loved having that dog there.
    Thanks for sharing this slice.

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    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 12:36h, 23 March Reply

    Your closing is so powerful, Clare. I am totally for a program such as this. Animals can be so comforting, calming and a way to learn how to love. I took my Corgi, Winnie the Pooh, to visit my dad in the nursing home, and we visited many residents there as well. They loved to pet her and talk to her. Winnie was a ham, and she loved all the attention she received. Thinking about the broader needs of our students – yes! We all should be doing that! Thanks for an important post!

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    Posted at 13:06h, 23 March Reply

    One of my schools has such a program. I love seeing Stella every Friday. It is a great idea and way to brighten the day. Stella provides such comfort and love.

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    Christine Baldiga
    Posted at 22:25h, 23 March Reply

    What an intriguing idea. I have seen dogs as reading buddies in libraries, but to have noe in a school – brilliant! I love this line: “we all have days when we need an extra bit of care or connection.”

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    Linda Baie
    Posted at 23:35h, 23 March Reply

    Sounds so wonderful. I often had students’ pets visit, at least for a while. We watched out for allergies, too, but most were okay with short visits. I saw a piece somewhere where they used dogs when children of abuse had to testity in court, a very hard thing. The dog sat by the child, under a kind of desk so that the court could not see. The reported it as very successful. Thanks for sharing about the school.

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    Karen Terlecky
    Posted at 02:24h, 24 March Reply

    Oh my! I love that this dog knows who to snuggle with and who to pass by. And I totally agree with you – how nice this program was proactive and not reactive – what a refreshing change. And hearing how the dog is part of workshop – what a great visual.

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