Pupils at Penybont Primary School in Bridgend recently enjoyed a special treat when their class was joined by a therapy dog for their reading group activities.
Border collie Rylie, who is specifically trained to have a calming influence, enjoyed a visit with Year Two pupils as part of an initiative to introduce workshops and education around animal care and welfare.
Pupils at Penybont Primary School were delighted to be joined by Rylie and said they felt more relaxed during the class with the pressure taken off their reading due to the dog’s presence.
A therapy dogs’ non-judgemental and comforting presence helps children with their confidence to read aloud and evokes more enthusiasm for the lessons, which in turn has a positive effect on their progress and literacy development.
Social enterprise Because Animals Are Worthwhile have partnered with Cariad Pet Therapy (a CIC based in Haverfordwest) and coworking hub Welsh ICE to deliver the scheme and there are plans for further school-based activities across south Wales dedicated to allowing children to become comfortable around animals, teaching them about their proper care and championing responsibility when it comes to owning pets.
Robbie Owen, headteacher at Penybont Primary School, said: “It’s always beneficial to provide some variation in children’s routines and hosting Chloe and Cariad Pet Therapy for this reading session was a brilliant way to inject some excitement into the regular class.
“The children were supported throughout and had the freedom to be as close to Rylie as they felt comfortable. They all fed back with huge enthusiasm and are already asking when they can have another day with therapy dogs.
“We look forward to welcoming the team back again for more sessions!”
Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “It is pleasing to see that this scheme had such a positive impact on pupils and helping them their progress and literacy development.
“It’s valuable for children to become familiar with animals from a young age and learn about the care they require.
“The excellent feedback from the various sessions is a great sign that more people are discovering the amazing effects animals can have on mental health.”
Image copyright: all images by Cariad Pet Therapy