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  • Writer's pictureShadowlee Canine

West Chester Classroom Using Dogs to Encourage Literacy

Dogs in the classroom, it might sound unconventional, but one West Chester elementary school says it has great benefits.

Every Wednesday five certified therapy dogs from Shadowlee Canine stop by Deanne DiDomenico's kindergarten classroom at East Bradford Elementary.  The dogs come ready to listen and the children come ready to read.

"It eases their anxiety when they are learning how to read these hard words and try new books and things like that. They want to read it to the dogs, said DiDomenico."

Each student is paired with a dog and then reads a book of their choice to the pup.

The dog trainers playing an important role too, encouraging the students as they read and making sure their dog is the best listener possible.

"The dogs, they love it, they love it because they know they are doing something, they have a job," said Jill Fingerhood, cofounder of Shadow Lee Canine.

Miss DiDomenico says that not only do her students look forward it each and every week, but it gives them an incentive to practice their reading.

"I've watched them hold the books up to the dogs and show them the pictures and ask them questions and use words we've been using in vocabulary," said DiDomenico.

Principal Dr. Chris Alston is also on board with the furry friends and says he has been from the start.

"If bringing a dog in helps their confidence and works as a building block to get them to where we want to take them then it is a win win for everyone," said Dr. Alston.

The dogs are provided to the school at no cost. Shadowlee Canine is a non-profit organization, made up entirely of volunteers.

They use their therapy dogs in classrooms, hospitals, nursing homes and to visit veterans. If you would like to see their dogs in your classroom or have you and your dog volunteer with them, click here.

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