Volunteers bring dogs along for reading support

Oliver the dog listens as a 2nd grader at the Christian Academy of Knoxville reads him a story. It's all a part of the Ruff Reading Program through HABIT.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- 'Human Animal Bond In Tennessee' or HABIT for short is encouraging kids to read by visiting schools and classrooms around East Tennessee. It's called the Ruff Reading Program and it's making a big difference for many kids!

The process is simple; volunteers take their HABIT certified dogs to classrooms and let the kids read to the dogs. It might not sound like an effective way to help reading skills but teachers thing otherwise.

Sarah Warren, 2nd grade teacher at The Christian Academy of Knoxville said "It's another way we get kids excited about reading. It helps to built their confidence by practicing out loud reading so when they do read in front of others they aren't as nervous because of the practice."

Every Thursday through the school year Oliver the dog and his volunteer Paul Clute visit Mr. Warren's second grade class. The kids split up into groups and move through different reading stations in the room including a visit with Oliver.

Paul Clute, Oliver's volunteer said "He loves coming to the classroom to see the kids. He has about 5 minutes with each student and really enjoys all the attention."

It's a way for the kids to read without the pressure and fear of reading out loud.

Patti Frost, HABIT volunteer said "The other students aren't around so if they mispronounce a word the dog doesn't make a face he just sits there and continues to listen. With practice the kids will be more confident and hopefully enjoy reading more."

If you're interested in volunteering with HABIT or having the Ruff Reading Program at your school-- visit the link below.

Also, the next informational meeting is December 15th. Call 865-974-5633 for more information.

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