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Robbie offers judgement-free reading help to Uffculme pupils
2:00pm Thursday 28th June 2012 in Devon
UFFCULME School has a new member of staff – Robbie the reading therapy dog.
The idea is simple – pupils go into a room with Robbie and an adult, read to him and gain confidence.
Some pupils feel uncomfortable reading to adults for fear of making a mistake and being corrected but by reading to Robbie those lacking in reading confidence can practice without feeling they will be judged.
The idea is believed to have a calming effect on the children while boosting their self-confidence.
Robbie is a Labrador whose mother was an Andrex puppy and still appears on the product boxes.
His handler, Louise Scott, a higher-level teaching assistant at the school, said she had the idea of introducing him to the school after reading articles about dogs being used for similar means in the USA.
She said: “I did a bit of research and in the USA it’s not as uncommon as it is here to use a dog for reading therapy.
“They’ve done a lot of research over there that shows that young people who read to dogs improve their skills more than those who don’t.
“The advantage of reading to Robbie over an adult is that he’s completely non-judgemental.
“When a child has problems reading or lacks confidence, the idea of reading to someone non-judgemental is important.
“The children don’t always realise it but they just relax more when they’re reading to Robbie.
“It’s very early days, as he’s only three months old, but he’s here for the long term.”