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Animals, self-esteem and education.

What are your thoughts about using animals in the classroom to engage learners and boost self-esteem?

This is a fun post which was inspired by a video I saw on the BBC about Llamas being taken into classrooms and using them to engage the children.

I love animals and this video reminded me of when I had a six foot long corn snake and I was invited to take it into my daughter's class.  I remember all the kids being excited and engaged and wanting to know more about the animal.  They were all seated in the reading corner until my pet decided to poo everywhere (yes , they really do!) , covered my daughter and the rest of the kids ran around the class screaming about the smell!

Apart from the personal hygiene of pets and associated risks there are real advantages to having animals in class.
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In March 2017, Assistant Professor Gill Johnson from the University of Nottingham wrote an article in the Independent about how reading to dogs can be really helpful to children.
She suggested that whilst there is little research in this area, the use of dogs as reading partners in schools is helping pupils who normally would find reading difficult.  Schools by their nature are stressful places at the moment, but in a stressful environment, everyone knows that if you introduce a cute cuddly dog into the room , most people will immediately start to relax.  It is thought that by encouraging kids to read to dogs, the non-judgemental, unconditional love of a dog will encourage a child to read more and slowly build up levels of self esteem and confidence.  Personally, I believe strongly that for a child that is struggling with dyslexia, often the anxiety of studying or reading can be just as difficult to cope with as well as the actual special educational need.  So if you can immediately reduce the anxiety doesn't that make it easier on the child enabling them to focus on strategies for combatting their literacy difficulties in a less stressful or stress free environment?

I would love to know how if you have noticed a positive effect on your child with an animal and their learning experience, either at school or at home i.e stroking a dog whilst reading.


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