Reading Education Assistance Dogs® (R.E.A.D.®) has gained popularity since its inception in 1999 as a program of Intermountain Therapy Animals of Salt Lake City. R.E.A.D is an innovative program that allows children to read to therapy dogs in order to foster a love for books and reading. The program is based on the idea that the benefits of being around animals can help children learn to read and develop a lifelong passion for learning. R.E.A.D. supports children in their literacy journey by providing them with a safe and nonjudgmental environment to read.

Benefits of R.E.A.D. Program

Research has demonstrated that R.E.A.D. has significant benefits for children. Studies show that children’s reading fluency and comprehension improve as a result of the program. Moreover, R.E.A.D. has been shown to help support children’s social and emotional learning. As children read to the dogs, they are able to build confidence and self-esteem, and develop empathy and compassion for animals and others.

Screening Process for R.E.A.D. Teams

In order to be registered as a R.E.A.D. team, the dog and handler must pass a screening process that includes assessment of the dog’s temperament, behavior, and ability to interact with children. The handlers are also trained on how to support children’s reading ability and how to create a comfortable space where children feel safe and welcomed. This screening process ensures that children are provided with a safe environment and that they are able to connect with dogs that are approachable and suitable.

R.E.A.D. as Therapy Tool

The program has been found to be an effective therapy tool for children with diverse needs, including those with autism, ADHD, and other developmental disabilities. The dogs provide a calming and comforting presence that may help children feel more relaxed and less anxious, leading to improved focus and cognition. Research has also shown that children with autism spectrum disorders benefit significantly from the program, particularly in areas of communication, socialization, and emotional regulation.

Turning Reading into a Fun Activity

R.E.A.D. also focuses on supporting children who may have been struggling with their reading abilities. The program aims to turn reading from a chore to a fun and enjoyable activity that children can look forward to. The nonjudgmental nature of the program allows children to make mistakes while they practice their reading, which can help them build confidence and improve their skills without feeling self-conscious.

In conclusion, the R.E.A.D. program is an innovative approach to supporting children’s literacy and social-emotional learning. The program provides a safe and nonjudgmental space for children to practice their reading skills, while also promoting empathy and compassion. As the program continues to expand, it has the potential to reach even more children and support them in their journey towards becoming lifelong readers.

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