The Hudson Valley Visiting Pet Program will also host a Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D. ®) training workshop on November 9th from 9am until 2pm for those who want to learn how to work with their dogs in this special literacy program. Individuals who wish to work with their animal to help children learn to read are encouraged to attend this program. Librarians, school teachers and school administrative staff who want to learn more about the program and how it could enhance the reading curriculum in their library or school, are also encouraged to attend. This workshop is for humans only; training for pets is done separately and the program accepts dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and even horses.
R.E.A.D. was developed in 1999 by Intermountain Therapy Animals in Salt Lake City Utah to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams as literacy mentors. This unique educational approach was first introduced on CBS’s “60 Minutes” more than 20 years ago.
Today there are more than 20 R.E.A.D. team in the Hudson Valley Visiting Pet Program and several area elementary schools have regular R.E.A.D. teams who work with children on a weekly basis in Orange, Rockland and Bergen. The teams do this work on a volunteer basis and are not paid for their services which translates into a free literacy program for schools who are selected to participate.
Teachers know that learning to read is often less about intellectual limitation than about overcoming fears. Animals are ideal reading companions because they help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure; listen attentively; do not judge, laugh or criticize; allow children to proceed at their own pace; and are less intimidating than classmates, teachers, parents, or tutors. Often the child’s dread of reading is replaced by eager anticipation facilitating learning. While the child is primarily reading to the dog, the handler provides support if necessary.
"This is an incredibly exciting program. We watch boys and girls come into the library nervous and apprehensive until they begin to read to the dogs, then their demeanor changes and they leave with a sense of accomplishment and a big smile on their faces," states Risa B. Hoag, one of only 60 licensed R.E.A.D. Instructors in the United States and a member of the Hudson Valley Visiting Pet Program. She added, "I have stood in the library with moms who begin to cry stating that their child has never wanted to read and this was the only program that was able to motivate them."
Members of the Hudson Valley Visiting Pet Program have been visiting nursing homes, assisted living residences, day programs, schools, libraries, and hospitals since 1993. The group is also an affiliate of Reading Education Assistance Dogs which operates in 49 states and three countries with over 1800 teams.
For more information about Hudson Valley Visiting Pets and the other work they do and facilities they visit, or to register for the workshop, visit www.HudsonValleyVisitingPets.com or contact Dolores Schaub at 845-267-8795, or email Dolores@HudsonValleyVisitingPets.com .
# # #