Press release from Rumson School District
Often, children who have difficulty reading, fear the judgment they receive and become self-conscious while practicing the skill aloud. A reading program involving a dog as a listener has the potential to change that.
Recently, students at Rumson’s Deane Porter and Forrestdale schools welcomed a very special regular guest, as Violet, the official therapy dog of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, joined several RFH students in English Language Arts classes at the two borough schools.
The new weekly pilot program, Reading Buddies-Paws and Practice, provides a safe space where children who may experience difficulty reading or those with learning differences or anxiety can exercise their reading skills. Violet and her RFH friends (under the direction of Jennifer Dellett, Victoria Vaughan and Sandy Self) will be lending their ears to readers as they develop fluency, build confidence, and ignite their potential.
Michael Snyder, Rumson Borough’s Supervisor of Special Services, praises the pilot-program collaboration, explaining that “Identifying opportunities to share best practices strengthens our district’s’ offerings and allows creative initiatives, such as Reading Buddies-Paws and Practice, to be leveraged for educational enrichment of our students.”
“Violet’s first visit was a success,” observes classroom teacher Sandy Self. “Students eagerly selected books from the classroom library to read with Violet and their RFH student partner.”
As a result of student interest and inquiry about Violet and therapy dogs, Self intends to expand the benefits of the partnership with RFH beyond reading and into the areas of oral language and communication, research, and writing. Students will conduct interviews with therapy dog trainers and handlers, research benefits of various dog breeds, and reflect in writing on their own experience as a member of Reading Buddies-Paws and Practice.