Why have a School Therapy Dog?
There are many benefits to having a therapy dog in a school setting, the main one being the health and well- being of both Pupils and Staff alike. A dog has an immediate calming effect by just being near. As one of our Year 1 children said, “Just seeing Jack makes me smile and makes my day better straight away!” Jack is a typical Labrador, calm, affectionate and very gentle natured. He is a much loved staff member now and a integral part of the St Edward’s School family.
The role of therapy dogs is to react and respond to people and their environment, under the guidance and direction of their handler. For example, an individual might be encouraged to gently pat or talk to a dog to teach sensitive touch and help them be calm.
Having a dog in school has the potential to help young children to develop in a range of academic, personal and social areas.
Benefits of Therapy Dogs
Animal assisted therapy can:
- teach empathy and appropriate interpersonal skills
- help individuals develop social skills
- be soothing and the presence of animals can more quickly build rapport between the teacher and pupil, and
- improve individual’s skills to pick up social cues imperative to human relationships.
Research into the effects of therapy dogs in schools is showing a range of benefits including:
- increase in school attendance
- gains in confidence
- decreases in learner anxiety behaviours resulting in improved learning outcomes, such as increases in reading and writing levels
- positive changes towards learning and improved motivation, and
- enhanced relationships with peers and teachers due to experiencing trust and unconditional love from a therapy dog. This in turn helps students learn how to express their feelings and enter into more trusting relationships.
Jack at St Edward’s
Jack absolutely loves coming in to school. He is very happy in his classroom with Year 3/4 and enjoys all aspects of his time in school.
At St Edward’s, Jack has been used in a variety of ways. He enjoys sitting in on reading time with the younger children, he sits calmly and listens, encouraging children to do the same and increasing their enjoyment of story times. Our reception class love their morning sessions and really look forward to his visits.
In KS1, Jack visits and joins in with lessons wherever it is appropriate. Again he loves story time and encourages children to sit quietly and listen. He enjoys outdoor maths lessons and always tries his best!
In KS2 Jack visits Y3/4 and also Y5/6. He joins small groups as they are working and the children are allowed to explain strategies or read to him and he is given treats if he behaves well. Children in Jack’s home base (Y3/4B) are on a rota to feed, fill water bowls and walk Jack each day. This teaches them the responsibilities required when owning and caring for animals.
Jack joins the children outside at break times and there is usually a long queue of children hoping to hold his lead and walk him each day. He loves to chase or catch a ball and loves to join Mr McTiernan for a PE lesson whenever possible. The children who work with Jack are learning how to care for and train a dog and are becoming much more aware of the responsibilities required when owning and caring for animals. Children are confident when approaching dogs and know what is appropriate and what is not.
Jack returning to school.
In the uncertainty of Lockdown and school closure in March 2020, Jack has remained safe at home. He misses his friends at school terribly, but is hoping for a return very soon!
Happy birthday to Jack! He turned 2 years old on April the 21st. He had a lovely day, with lots of extra treats and a birthday cake.
Jack – Our School Therapy Dog.
Jack is settling well into his new classroom in KS2. He still enjoys playing with the children in the KS1 yard everyday, as it is smaller and quieter for him there. He loves playing with his ball and all the children take turns to walk him with supervision from Mrs Hoy-Taylor and Miss Dunakey.
He is spending short amounts of time on KS2 yard too, with Miss Readman, to try to build his confidence in the larger and busier playground. He is getting much braver now.
Jack has had a lovely Summer holiday, but was ready to come back to school. He had missed all of his friends so much.
(Early Days – September 2018)
We were really happy to welcome Jack to our school in October. He loves his visits to school and enjoys all the treats he gets when he works with the children.
Jack Christmas Visit (December 2018)
Jack visited school on Wednesday and Thursday this week to say thank you for all his cards and gifts. He thinks you are very kind and so generous. He wanted to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and is looking forward to seeing you all in 2019.
Jack back at School (January 2019)
Jack has enjoyed being back at school this week. He has had lots of fun working with small groups, supporting and playing and making some lovely friendships. Even Mr McTiernan played with him and took him for a run!
Jack Visits Year 6 (February 2019)
Jack has been learning so much in our Year 6 SATs preparation classes. His calming influence has helped Year 6 as they get ready for May.
Jack worked in Year 6 on Monday helping to create a calm atmosphere during our SATs practise paper.
Jack has really enjoyed working in Year 6 this week. Children explained concepts to him and he listened very carefully.
Jack Visits Year (March 2019)
Jack enjoyed helping the Year 5 children with their fractions today. He tried very hard to understand the tricky work but it was a little too hard for him. Some Year 5 children then took him outside to learn how to give commands and walk him responsibly. As a treat he got to chase after his ball – his most favourite thing to do.