April 26 is National Kids and Pets Day, which really tugs at our heartstrings because there’s really nothing cuter than the bond between a child and their animal. Pet ownership in young children has so many benefits – it teaches them empathy, responsibility, strengthens their immune system, and more. It can even help them do better in school.
For a lot of kids, learning to read can be a daunting, overwhelming and, at times, an embarrassing process. During this learning curve, the pressure of reading aloud can cause stress, anxiety, and, worst of all, a disdain for reading – which is such a huge part of their education. If only there were a laid back way to practice reading aloud without the worry of stuttering, stumbling, or hearing rude classmates snicker…
Well, there may just be the perfect neutral, non-judgmental (and adorable!) audience available to them right now: THEIR PET!
That’s right, reading aloud to pets is the purrfect way for kids to practice reading without stress or judgment – not to mention petting an animal releases feel-good hormones and lowers blood pressure. In fact, the idea is so effective, shelters and schools across the country have paired up for kids to come down to the shelter and read to pets – not only does it better socialize their animals but it allows children to improve their reading skills in a comfortable (and cute) environment. In a study performed by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), children reported enjoying reading to animals and had a stronger motivation to continue the activity. If that’s not proof enough, there are even grant programs available for the sole purpose of bringing a pet into the classroom because they have such a pawsitive impact on students. So before shelling out big bucks for a reading tutor, consider stopping by the shelter with a few books or talking with your teacher about a classroom pet!
Do you have a story about a classroom pet, or have a favorite way to celebrate Kids and Pets Day? We’d love to hear (and see!) more on Facebook!