We had a wonderful day and are lucky that everyday is Take Your Dog to Work Day here at Canine Comprehension. It has been a really nice reminder why it is important to spend time with our hairy friends. Research seems to confirm what we have known all along - that dogs in the workplace can lower stress while increasing employee productivity.
We were productive! The morning was spent with me at the computer, working on the business. I typed away and answered phone calls while the the dogs snoozed at my feet.
We went for a lunch time walk. It was a lovely way to clear my head and elevate my mood while watching Minnie and Oscar fool around playing chasey at the park.
The afternoon took Oscar and I out on the road and we visited a few clients. People always smile when one of our dogs walk into an office. It's always a happy treat and staff came over and gave Oscar a cuddle and he gladly accepted all the love that was heaped onto him. I love the fact that just the presence of a dog means people smile more, they seem less stressed, they laugh and enjoy each others company in a more relaxed and positive manner.
The happiness meter always goes up a notch when you bring a dog into an office. International Take Your Dog to Work Day was created by Pet Sitters International to celebrates the great companions dogs make. We often make a different in children's lives - today allowed us to add a bit of happiness to the lives of adults too!
When it comes to children’s literacy you can divide children into two camps. The first being the ‘readers’ - children who you have trouble prizing a book out of their hands at the dinner table . The other being the ‘non-readers’ - children who, when you put a book in their hands, pull a face as if you just replaced their dessert with frozen carrots.
“How can I encourage my child to read?” is a question asked at all parent - teacher interviews. The same replies are given: Get them to read on a subject of their interest, create time for reading everyday, encourage them to read anything! But the problem is that all of these suggestions are great for the ‘reader’, but they will not persuade a ‘non-reader’ to love reading.
The problem with many ‘non-readers’ is that they have formed a negative connection to the process of picking up a book, sitting somewhere quietly and emerging themselves in fiction. To the ‘non-reader’, we might as well be trying to get them to read ‘The Anthology of Watching Grass Grow’- it doesn’t matter the book choice, the child is rejecting the process.
So how to we change this perception?
We start by finding things children love doing and connecting them to reading experiences.
It’s all about finding something that can help ‘non-readers’ connect to the process.
Some ideas are:
Canine Comprehension, a Melbourne based tutoring business understands that encouraging ‘non-readers’ requires finding an authentic connection that children love. They do this by using dogs! By including a canine friendly face into reading sessions, ‘nonreaders’ delight in the experience. A positive connection with reading is achieved through the encouragement of an expert tutor and a highly trained dog.
How can dogs help encourage the ‘non-reader? Dogs help create a positive learning environment, without the fear of being corrected for mistakes. Dogs are used as encouragement and motivation. Readers try to improve to impress their doggie reading buddy, promoting gratitude, self- confidence, optimism and a deep sense of fulfillment.
So the next time you are struggling with getting your child to read, remember it’s about making positive connection with the process. Book choice is only half the battle. If they can enjoy the act of picking up a book, sitting somewhere quietly and emerging themselves in fiction you are on your way to creating a ‘reader’.
1. Ask your child to make predictions.
2. Ask what is happening in the pictures.
3. Ask questions about the characters.
4. Move your finger along the words.
5. Re-read the favourites again and again.
Did you know 20 minutes a day is all it takes to build key reading skills?
Here are 7 quick ideas to help parents read with their child.
1. Create rituals & read together everyday.
2. Snuggle up with your child & a book.
3. Talk about the pictures & ask questions.
4. Read with expression.
5. Share different kinds of books.
6. Read favourite books again & again.
7. Read about topics you both love.
One of my biggest challenges when talking to potential clients about Canine Comprehension and Literacy Programs is explaining the high training expectations of our dogs. When I mention that Minnie and Oscar assist me in teaching by making the learning experience positive and fun many people think about their own little dog in such a situation - running around, yapping and jumping on children. How can that improve the learning experience?
Minnie and Oscar have both completed the Lead the Way Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) course, which has very high expectations on what AAT dog should be able to do.
Once a dog is calm and listens to their handler in any environment, under any distraction, their behaviour is able to be shaped to improve the learning experience.
The following is a list of some of the things Minnie and Oscar had to be able to do to pass the course.
Now be honest, could your dog do this?
Leadership Standards (all under distraction):
Manners Standards (all under distraction)
The below is a video showing Minnie and Oscar in the city demonstrating many of the same exercises mentioned above. The distraction part was easy, trains, noises and large crowds of the city mean that Minnie and Oscar needed to refer back to their training and listen to their handler to stay calm, have fun and enjoy the day out.
If you would like to discuss further how Minnie and Oscar can be used to improve a positive learning environment, please contact us - you now know they can handle the distraction.
I have been asking our Facebook Friends their favourite children's books. I am always interested in top # lists and seeing why certain books made it higher than others. A children's book list says more about the adult choosing the books and their childhood memories than it usually does about the current younger audience, don't you think?
In saying that I came across an interesting list from Scholastic - as it is teachers, authors and illustrators top 25 picks. I'd thought I'd share it with you here - if you want to see the list for yourself check out the link.
1. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
What it’s about: When Max is sent to bed without his dinner, he imagines an adventure to the land of the Wild Things, where he meets a crowd of fanciful beasts. When he becomes homesick, he wakes up in his bedroom to find his warm supper waiting for him.
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
What it’s about: Eric Carle’s colorful classic depicts the famished insect eating his way through an apple, two pears, three plums, and a smorgasbord of other treats. Along the way, readers learn about colors and counting — not to mention the life cycle of a caterpillar.
3. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Who it’s for: Grades K–5
Could there be a better Christmas tale than that of a boy lying awake on Christmas Eve who is taken by Santa himself to the North Pole? This Caldecott winner encourages kids to believe in the spirit of Christmas.
4. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
What it’s about: A young bunny tries to stave off sleep by bidding goodnight to every item he can think of, leading himself (and readers!) to a quiet sense of peace. Clement Hurd’s illustrations range from small black and white drawings to full color beauties.
5. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw
What it’s about: The story of a boy and his mom. While the mother continues to rock her boy to sleep — even if she must sneak in his bedroom to do so — eventually he will do the same for her. A touching cycle-of-life tale.
6. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
What it’s about: This wise and lovely story of the tree that gives her all for love is also a wonderful tale about life transforming the boy that played on her branches to an old man that sits on her stump.
7. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
What it’s about: Once a pebble-collecting donkey finds his lucky stone, misadventure begins. Once Sylvester accidentally turns himself into a stone, it seems all is lost, but eventually he comes back to his donkey self — and wishing is approached more carefully!
8. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
What it’s about: Ah, the Parisian adventures of Madeline! Her life with the nuns, her trip to the hospital, and Bemelemans’ depictions of the city still satisfy kids of many ages. This long-running series never surpasses the charm of its first installment!
9. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
What it’s about: Before arriving at the happy ending, readers will experience the growth of a city as it surrounds the previously isolated little house. Burton’s fanciful drawings add to the delight of the story.
10. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
What it’s about: As Sal and her mom set out to pick blueberries, so do a mother bear and her cub. Eventually the young set swap moms for a cross-species adventure tale and a comedy of errors.
11. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
What it’s about: A book that makes the simple, everyday activities of a little boy into an epic. When Peter awakes to the first snow of the season, every detail of the day — from kicking snow off a branch to the attempt to save a snowball — becomes magical.
12. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
What it’s about: A story about a fruit bat raised by birds, this book celebrates uniqueness and independence. As a beautifully told tale with gorgeous illustrations and a section of bat information as well, this book has it all.
13. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
What it’s about: Oh, that hungry mouse. Once you give him the cookie, the trail of action is unstoppable! By the end, the mouse and the boy that gives him the cookie (and perhaps the reader) are exhausted! With terrific illustrations and a wonderful lead character.
14. The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
What it’s about: A powerful narrative with echoes of metaphor, this is a story about a fence that divides a white neighborhood from a black one and the two little girls whose need for play and companionship allow them to straddle and then cross it.
15. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr
What it’s about: A classic example of child’s mind expanding a simple walk into a glorious adventure. As a girl and her father hike through the moonlit night, the creatures they encounter become thrilling companions for their owl hunt.
16. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
What it’s about: A great book to lead a child into reading. A whimsical story of a boy who makes and then befriends a snowman who both enters his world and takes him out on a nighttime escapade. The enigmatic ending can also be a great beginning.
17. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
What it’s about: This exquisite book offers fourteen drawings with captions, each its own launch pad for stories and imaginings of any sort. The lack of a cohesive narrative allows, indeed requires, that kids provide their own ideas of what happens next.
18. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey Anita Silvey,
What it’s about: Watch out for urban ducks… A great read aloud book, this tale of two mallards who decide to raise their family in the Boston’s Public Garden is a perennial favorite. Beautiful drawings and a great story make Boston seem perfect for ducks!
19. SkippyJon Jones by Judy Schachner
What it’s about: A wonderful combo of story, rhyme, Spanish-English hybrid, color, action and pure joy, this book has something to enchant any kid and is a fantastic read aloud. SkippyJon is part kitten, part dynamo.
20. No, David! by David Shannon
What it’s about: As little David careens from one forbidden activity to the next, with his mom shouting the title, David’s naughty output is impressive. A kid’s book with a “real” soundtrack, the text is drawn from a book the author produced when he was 5!
21. The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
What it’s about: A rich immigrant’s tale, this book is the classic American story. A quilt that is made from the bits and pieces of the past to warm up the present, it provides not just the story, but the only color in these otherwise black and white ink drawings.
22. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, illustrated by George & Doris Hauman
What it’s about: What would childhood be without the whispered “I think I can, I think I can”? This book is possibly the best-known children’s classic and a wonderful read-aloud. Its positive message has underscored the days of thousands of children.
23. The Mitten by Jan Brett
What it’s about: With illustrations to delight, this story of a grandma-knitted mitten that becomes a home to a whole group of chilly winter animals — until a sneeze ousts them all — is a perfect winter companion. Nicki’s glove has a life of its own!
24. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
What it’s about: I am Sam, Sam I am. Possibly the most fun a kid can have while learning to read, this book’s repetitive phrases, simple drawings and goofy charm make it one of childhood’s must-haves.
25. Curious George by H.A. and Margret Ray
What it’s about: The world’s most beloved monkey! Curious George has had many adventures in his day, but it all starts with this classic. Introduce a new generation of readers to his irrepressible chimp.
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