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Pets Helping with Homework

Posted by [email protected] on October 24, 2011 at 12:10 AM

Your family pet can help with homework!

Studies show that when a child reads to a dog, he or she improves and, often, excels.

Organizations like Delta Society, Intermountain Therapy Animals, and Therapy Dogs International harness that power by bringing trained dogs into schools and public libraries to foster reading.

Even if your pet isn’t specially trained to help with homework, you can apply the same principles those organizations use at home. “The reason kids improve and even excel when they read to a dog is due to a combination of things,” says Bobbi Carducci, co-director of the Young Voices Foundation and author of Storee Writer Gets a Dog.

Help with Homework through Companionship

“Some kids are afraid of making a mistake when reading. A pet won’t laugh or scold if you make a mistake or have trouble pronouncing a new word. That takes a lot of the pressure off. And, having a warm, calm, friendly dog by your side is very relaxing. Even very tense children show signs of relaxing when a favorite pet lies down beside them and dozes off,” says Carducci.

If your child dislikes or struggles with homework, encourage him to talk it over with or read his assignments to the family pet. Not only will it motivate your child to complete assignments, but your dog, cat, or guinea pig will love the extra attention.

Help with Homework through Setting

Start by dedicating a space for your child to do his or her homework every day. “It doesn’t have to be large space or a fully outfitted office. A corner of the bedroom furnished with a comfy throw rug, an oversized pillow and maybe a lap desk is all you need,” says Carducci.

“Just make sure there is enough room for your child and the dog to stretch out.”

Help with Homework through Focus

Reading assignments are a natural place to begin this exercise. Allow your child to choose a book or assignment to begin. Set an amount of time—Carducci suggests five to 10 minutes to start—and leave your child and pet to work together for that amount of time.

“When the session is over, ask your child one or two questions about what she read, but don’t push if she's reluctant to talk about it at first. Once she feels comfortable, she will begin to open up and may even begin to ask for more books to read,” Carducci says.

If your pet is motivating your child to read, expand to other types of assignments. Encourage your child to talk through math problems, rehearse presentations, or recite spelling words with your pet.

Carducci cautioned that not all kids and pets make a great homework team. “It takes a pet with a calm, even temperament, one who will sit quietly with a child while he or she is reading or studying,” she says.

However, with practice—and lots of treats—your child and your pet can learn to enjoy homework time together.

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