Halls Head Primary School: Dogs and volunteers are improving students' reading skills

Volunteer Julie and her puppy Pearl regularly visit a local Mandurah primary school, helping students become more confident in reading and writing.

The pair visit Halls Head Primary School as part of program, Story Dogs.

Reading sessions take place in a quiet area outside the classroom. A session is approximately 20 minutes long, where each student is one-on-one with Pearl and Julie.

The student's confidence improves as they become the teacher, by helping the dog understand.

During the session, Julie often speaks for the dog, such as, 'Pearl doesn't understand what is happening on this page, could you help her out?'.

The volunteers come with fun, interesting books. The material is suitable for each child's reading level, aiming to inspire children to read for enjoyment and knowledge.

Julie encourages the students to write letters to Pearl between reading sessions, further encouraging literacy skills.

Halls Head Primary School teacher Mrs Beckingham, who has had Julie and Pearl in her class for the last two years, said students love the program.

"There has been a marked improvement in the students reading results," she said.

The dogs temperament, obedience and willingness is of utmost importance, to be a Story Dog. Pearl certainly has all of those attributes and is loved by students and staff.

Handlers are volunteers trained to help emergent readers. They assist in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way.

For more information visit www.storydogs.org.au.