For one lucky grade two classroom, the newest students, Tango and Sparky are by far the most popular.
Lori Friesen is a University of Alberta researcher who made the connection between a love of reading and writing and dogs, and has implemented her two dogs, Tango and Sparky into the learning process.
Friesen was a grade two teacher before getting her PhD, and often brought her dog Tango to class as a reward to students for good behaviour. Each child would have 10 minutes of quiet time with the dog.
“What I started to notice was some of the kids brought books to read to Tango,” said Friesen. “ I noticed some of the boys arguing over which books Tango liked the most.”
Her class gave her the inspiration to find the science behind such a strong response to canine assisted learning. While earning her PhD, Friesen began a weekly research course for a small group of students, bringing Tango to the class and facilitating their time with him.
Friesen interviewed the children after the experiment to find out what they were getting from this activity. “They’re the ones teaching the dog, they’re the ones in charge. They don’t really have that in the regular classroom,” said Friesen.
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