Dogs are great listeners. For that reason, growing numbers of primary schools in Britain and the US have been arranging sessions where children read aloud to canines. The dogs do not interrupt or criticise errors in pronunciation. They just appear to listen, bolstering the confidence of pupils who struggle to read fluently.
The success of such projects puts the work of human volunteers in a different light. Whenever a major corporation boasts about how its employees do selfless volunteer work in inner-city schools, the mischievous side of me wants to reply: "Yes - and so do greyhounds."
The company's head of corporate social responsibility would no doubt point out that results have improved at primary school X since its employees began helping out. But the organisations that place dogs in the classroom can point to improvements in reading scores, too. The Reading Education Assistance Dogs programme, for instance, has amassed a pile of positive data reports (bit.lyNsRsxL).
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