Rain

Rain

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 4°C

Search

Ipswich: A novel idea or just barking mad? Pupils hone their literacy skills – by reading to a dog!

11:18 29 November 2012

Heathcliff the Reading Dog helps pupils out at Nacton Primary School. Izzie reads to Heathcliff

Heathcliff the Reading Dog helps pupils out at Nacton Primary School. Izzie reads to Heathcliff

Archant

WHEN children read to him, Heathcliff does not criticise or correct their pronunciation. Instead he occasionally pricks up his ear and lifts his paw in appreciation.

shares

Seven-year-old pet pooch Heathcliff dons his school uniform to make a weekly visit to Nacton Village Primary School to enjoy story-time with pupils.

The Shih Tzu was brought into school in October after research revealed that children who read to a dog improve their reading age by more than a year in under eight months.

Selected pupils in years one and two are left on cloud ca-nine after reading a choice of fiction and non-fiction books to Heathcliff every Monday.

The youngsters also walk him on the field and play with him to develop their confidence and promote self-esteem.

Headteacher Jo Kidby, who joined the school in September, said: “The idea is that the child reads to the dog and an accompanying adult, and the child gains reading confidence because they are not told they are incorrect at any point.

“We have noticed an increase of children reading at home for enjoyment and children starting to self-correct their mistakes independently.

“The children also love the fact that a dog comes into schools and is there to help with the learning.

“It supports the idea that learning is an on-going experience, not just restricted to the classroom.”

According to Miss Kidby, Heathcliff sits and listens to the stories before putting his paw up when the children are finished and is rewarded with a pat on the head.

The idea is supported by the Kennel Club and is being trialled by around 100 primary schools in the UK after success in the US.

Miss Kidby, who owns Heathcliff, said the children’s progress would be assessed at the end of the term.

“I expect to see an improvement but it’s quite an experimental programme,” she added.

“We have had a huge amount of enthusiasm in school and children are keen to read outside of schools according to their parents, while teachers have noticed a difference in school.”

If the scheme is a success, Miss Kidby hopes to extend it.

She said: “It’s a bit of a brave step to be honest because I have only been in post since September but it seems to be paying off so far.

“I’m very happy to give anything a go if it helps improve children’s learning.

“I have had much interest from other headteachers who have asked to ‘borrow’ Heathcliff.”

n What do you think of the initiative? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or alternatively e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk

shares

0 comments

Two teenagers have been arrested following the death of a 14 year old boy after an incident at an address in Thurston.

A peaceful Suffolk village is tonight in shock after the death of a 14-year-old boy from gunshot wounds.

Waveney River Centre.

A seven-year-old girl has died after being pulled unconscious from a swimming pool near Beccles.

More than 600 vehicles - cars, buses, military vehicles and motorcycles - taking part in the 46th annual Ipswich to Felixstowe Historic Vehicle Run. Christchurch Park. Left to right, Ross and Stuart Holman.

Hundreds of car owners took advantage of one of the first good days of the year to take part in Sunday’s historic vehicle run from Ipswich to Felixstowe.

Ipswich & District TUC are celebrating another May Day Festival in Alexandra Park on International Workers Day.

Perfect spring weather finally arrived in Ipswich for the town’s May Day festival which brought out the crowds to Alexandra Park on Sunday afternoon.

Kesgrave 5K Fun Run starting and ending at The Bell Inn.

It was a record-breaking turn out at the ninth annual Kesgrave 5k fun run.

Entrants set off in last year's Rotary Club of Felixstowe fun run on the resort's seafront.

After a warm and fairly dry weekend, Bank Holiday Monday is set to get off to a dry start in Suffolk but turn wet and blowy by the afternoon.

The A1092 through Clare is closed due to a road traffic accident.

Police were called at 3.35pm today to attend a serious road traffic collision in Clare.

Yum Yums Cookery School, a nonprofit community organisation which runs cookery classes at primary schools in Ipswich, has received funding worth £500. Children at Whitehouse Primary celebrating the news. Adults L-R Dawn Burrows, Charlotte Burrows, Ron Impey, Emma Youngman.

An after-school cookery class scheme is celebrating after receiving a vital funding boost.

34th annual Heritage Coast Run/Walk organised by the Rotary Club of Saxmundham and District
13 mile start

Runners travelled from as far as Scotland to take part in a “unique” challenge along the Suffolk coast.

Should cyclists be allowed to go through red traffic lights when it is safe?

Cyclists riding through red lights – is it time to make it legal to keep traffic moving asks motoring editor Andy Russell.

Most read

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24