In partnership with Communities@Work Galilee School, the Rainbow Reading Dawgz program was established in 2020.
Rainbow Reading Dawgz encourages the participation of students who may not feel comfortable reading aloud in front of their peers. This program is run in a safe & respectful environment allowing students to be comfortable and engaged while developing their reading skills.
Evidence suggests that reading to a dog may have beneficial effects on various behavioural processes when reading is practised in a safe environment, leading to improved reading performance.
Rainbow Reading Dawgz support the education of students alongside their teachers with the aim of improving the students reading skills and fluency. This will help them develop and improve a skill that will serve them well throughout their lifetime. It is hoped that their improved reading skills will further encourage their academic pursuits or provide them with the necessary skills to confidently enter the workforce.
Reading aloud to the canine volunteers helps the students not only improve their reading skills and fluency, it also has many benefits including: building connection between the spoken and written word; it can increase attention span; it can strengthen cognitive abilities; it promotes bonding. The quality time the student, teacher and canine volunteer spend together strengthens relationships, making it easier for students to develop their social, communication and interpersonal skills.
The bond and affection the students develop for the canine volunteers is another key benefit of the program. Many studies have shown that the simple act of being around and petting a dog can reduce the blood pressure and heart rates of dog and human . Another benefit of the human-dog bond is stress reduction in both parties. The nonjudgmental character of the dog provides many feelings of comfort to humans and as a result stress levels are substantially reduced. Humans can talk, read, and fully express themselves in the presence of a dog without fear of judgment.
The Rainbow Paws Program which runs this program, in turn has benefited itself from the Rainbow Reading Dawgz program. A number of the students who participate in the Rainbow Reading Dawgz program volunteered to be artists for a our fundraising event ‘Bad Pet Portraits’. As part of their studies in connected learning, volunteering for our event was a way to demonstrate community and giving. A key element in the program has been student participation – not only in the program itself but as the program was established. It was the students who came up with the name ‘Rainbow Reading Dawgz’. Their inclusion in all aspects of the program helps to provide a greater sense of ownership and hopefully participation in the program.