Dogs and Students – Classroom Teaching

photoWhat does it take for children to learn? The answer is that it varies from child to child. Teachers and administrators dedicate their lives to get lessons across, but sometimes it takes a special spark to ignite a child’s love of learning. This is why some schools have turned to unconventional methods to reach their students. Here are some examples of out of the box teaching techniques:

Facility Dogs

In some classrooms, students learn important lessons from canines. Especially trained facility dogs help children learn several tasks, ranging from overcoming fears to practicing patience and perseverance, from speaking and interacting to listening and following directions. Kids with special needs particularly benefit from working with a facility dog every day. Brushing the animal, taking him for walks, and playing fetch all help to develop gross motor skills and decrease stress levels in the classroom. Children who have difficulty with social interaction can also find a supportive friend in a service dog.

Canine Companions for Independence is an organization that breeds, raises, and trains canines to work as service dogs for the disabled. They also send facility dogs to classrooms around the country, where teachers are taught how to employ their dog in the classroom – they practice everything from math using dog food measurements to writing with the animal as a subject. Dogs are great for teaching because they provide a very calming effect.

Babies on Board

Roots of Empathy is a Canadian non-profit group that also operates in the US. Their mission is to reduce bullying in schools, and they use an interesting strategy – their program involves students learning about empathy from a baby!

Each class is assigned an infant who visits occasionally with a parent. Students become emotionally attached to the little one as they learn about infant development and care, caring interaction, and emotional literacy. Kids who have undergone the program usually transfer the affection they develop for the baby to an emotional awareness for their peers. Teachers have observed that students become more caring, connected, and aware of others after completing the program. Learning about a baby teaches them to read a person’s emotions via facial clues, renounce control over people and events, and most importantly, think about others.

Breaking Down Age Barriers

The Intergenerational School is an inner-city charter school in Cleveland, Ohio, with a premise that learning is a lifelong venture and happens best through community collaboration. There, it’s not unusual to see young students working with older volunteers, including some who have Alzheimer’s disease. The volunteers, who are a vital presence at the school, mentor kids in reading, writing, hobbies, and arts.

Experts agree that for older people with dementia, volunteering and staying socially active can have a positive effect on their overall well-being. Teachers and administrators at the school feel the volunteers have plenty to offer the students as well.

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