Israeli study finds dogs help boost children's reading skills

New study suggests presence of pets provides a non-judgmental and supportive environment that can aid in enhancing reading abilities

Tamar Trabelsi Hadad|
The Education Ministry has recently expressed concern over unfavorable results of an international research study that found a significant slip in reading proficiency among fourth-grade students in Israel.
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Another study, also conducted among fourth-grade students, may improve the situation: it turns out that reading texts to dogs helps improve reading fluency.
Researchers Dr. Shirley Har-Tzvi Hacohen, Ortal Cohen and Ita Marla of the Talpiot College of Education explain that the presence of dogs may assist in creating a supportive, safe, and non-judgmental environment for learning and practicing reading skills.
The researchers noted that reading to someone who is non-judgmental but attentive generates the necessary memorization for improving reading.
The study examined 29 elementary school students from central Israel who received ten reading lessons. The participants were divided into two groups: 15 students in the test group and 14 in the control group. One group read the texts to dogs, while the students in the control group practiced repeated reading of the same texts.
The research results revealed a significant difference in the accuracy and that the group that read texts to dogs showed greater improvement.
Einat Artzi, whose daughter participated in the experiment, said her daughter Michaela "has loved dogs from a young age. Her experience of reading to dogs greatly strengthened her desire to read, and in my opinion, it improved her reading abilities.
Overall, the experience of integrating dogs into the classroom made her feel comfortable and safe, and she began to enjoy going to school. Michaela is now considered one of the top readers in her class and has a very rich vocabulary. Thanks to this, we also adopted a dog."
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