Meet Evie - Our School Dog Mentor!
Our Dog Mentor, Evie, lives with Mrs Lindley at home but comes to school regularly so she can be part of our St Leonard's family and all children can benefit from spending time with her. Evie has been assessed in school and became a ‘Dog Mentor’ meaning she has a licence to work in school with the children. Mrs Lindley and Mrs Ward received training and learned of the many incredible ways in which children’s well-being and learning can be enhanced by interacting with a school dog.
The Dog Mentor programme was founded in November 2014 by Jenny Duckworth, based in Gravesham and Medway. It is research based and uses 'Animal Assisted Activities' to help children's development and well-being, working on areas such as self-esteem, behaviour, peer relationships and better engagement skills. It builds upon the benefits of the human/animal bond by providing children with positive experiences with dogs that can help them educationally, developmentally, emotionally and socially.
Evidence indicates that benefits include:
Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing
Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others
Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety.
Physical – interaction with a dog can enable the release of 'feel good' chemicals in the brain, reduce blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, give motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses.
Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
Reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect they have on children as well as the fact that a dog will listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence to read aloud.
Please see the documents below for further information.