Primary schools are encouraging children to build their confidence when reading out loud by getting dogs to listen to them.
The novel idea has helped kids at Langfaulds Primary School who are visited every week by an Old English Sheepdog and a Border Collie.
Therapets Willow and Skye have been helping pupils at Glasgow schools for around 18 months.
At the beginning of a reading session the dogs settle down on the floor, and children know they are listening when they rest their heads on their paws.
Reece Cameron, a P7 from Dalmuir, West Dunbartonshire, said he and his friend love seeing the two dogs come in to their school.
The 11-year-old said: “It’s relaxing and it’s fun and it has improved my reading a lot.
“It makes you more confident because it’s not that the dogs are going to judge you and sometimes I do worry in class that I will be judged.”
“The dogs are really good and don’t jump around.
“Everyone in school loves seeing Skye and Willow.”
Willow, eight, has been Therapet for four years while Skye, nine, joined the Therapet team two years ago.
The highly-trained dogs are constantly supervised by their owners, Sharon Fergus with Skye and James Macdonald with Willow.
Charity bosses look for dogs who are calm and obedient to become Therapets and Willow and Skye fit the bill perfectly.
Head teacher of the Drumchapel school Vhairi Cochrane said a new member of staff, her deputy head, had recommended the idea as it had been popular in her previous school.
Mrs Cochrane said: “The children have greatly benefited from having the dogs in school and their reading is really coming on.
“You can see them grow in confidence and it helps them with reading in front of adults and their peers.
“Pupils who would not have been able to do that before are now comfortable doing it, it has a distinct effect.”
Therapets must be at least one year old but there is no upper age limit on the dogs and cats who take part.
James Macdonald, an area representative for Canine Concern Scotland Trust, which organises the Therapet service, said the charity looks for dogs with an even temperament.
He said: “The reading with dogs programme is only 18 months old so it is relatively new compared to our service going into hospital and care homes.
“But so far it is proving really successful with around 20 schools in Glasgow taking part.
“It is wonderful to see the children grow in confidence each week as they get used to reading to their dog.
“It can be very calming, particularly children with autism, and we are very pleased to be seeing the success of the service.”
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