Local students at the Swift School who once were too shy to read aloud because of the challenges they face with dyslexia are gaining confidence in their reading abilities thanks to programs like K-9 Kids Reading Program.
Fourth grade students at are participating in the K-9 Kids Reading Program organized by Canine Assistants, a local metro Atlanta charity. On Friday, Dec. 2, students spent the morning reading books to a visiting service dog, which is being trained to aid adults and children with physical disabilities or other special needs.
“It was a little weird at first but it’s fun! We’re doing this to help our class become better at reading,” said Peyton, a Swift School fourth grader. “It’s good for her [the dog] to get to know people.”
Natalie Felix, an associate teacher at Swift School, got involved in Canine Assistants several years ago. This past summer, Felix’s son was in the hospital at Scottish Rite. During that time, her son and other patients were visited by dogs from Canine Assistants.
“The kids loved the visits and it made the hospital stay much nicer - even for my 17 year old son,” said Felix. “That experience re-interested me in the program and I decided to see how Swift could get involved.”
Swift School is currently participating once a month in the K-9 Kids Reading program with the hope of increasing the frequency and expanding student involvement in 2012. This reading environment is a win-win situation for both child and canine. Students improve their reading fluency and self-confidence while the dog enjoys the company of a child. This program is exceptionally special to Swift School because children are often nervous to read aloud. The presence of a dog eases fears and gives the readers a genuine opportunity to orally read.
“I read 'How to Eat Fried Worms' to her because it’s funny,” said Isabelle, another Swift fourth grader. “She is sweet, listens to me and doesn’t bark while I read.”
“Reading with purpose truly engages students,” said Felix. “When they read to a dog, they are not intimidated at all! It is a relaxing experience for the student and the dog. I tell the students that we are performing a significant service by helping train and prepare the dog for future placement with a person with disabilities. This is very empowering!!”
For further information about Swift School call 678-205-4988 or visit Swift School online.