It's bark to school for reading dog Hector

By Mark Andrews | Whitchurch | Education | Published: | Last Updated:

There was no problem getting children to read when a four-legged friend joined the staff of a Shropshire school for a day.

Hector the great dane dropped into The White House School to help youngsters with their literacy schools yesterday.

Hector is a 'reading dog' who has been specially trained to listen patiently to youngsters as they share their books with him.

Teacher Linda Hughes said the gentle giant was very popular with children and was invaluable in boosting their confidence in reading.

She said being in the presence of dogs was proven to have a calming effect on many people, and having Hector around immediately made children feel relaxed and comfortable. "He allows children who are struggling to read, or who lack confidence with public speaking, to benefit from the simple pleasure of reading uninterrupted to a patient and loyal listener," she said.

"For more experienced or capable readers, Hector provides an opportunity to experiment with fluency and intonation, safe in the knowledge that he will provide only a positive response."

Mrs Hughes added that Hector liked listening to both children reading on their own, and also to small groups.

“It’s early days with Hector, but we hope that his calm and nurturing presence, here at the White House, will encourage the children to develop their fluency of reading and their overall confidence of public speaking, as well as providing support for their overall mental health and well-being," she said.

"The children love Hector and are extremely eager to share their books with him.

"His presence so far has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm and this is beginning to spark an even deeper love of reading, which is exactly the result we were hoping for.”

Hector was at the school as part of the Bark & Read Foundation which is backed by the Kennel Club.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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