This winter, I was living in southern California and had an opportunity to visit a first grade classroom at the Seneca Elementary School in Moreno Valley. Barley wore his little RWR vest and we visited the classroom once a week for about 3 months. There were quite a few children in this first grade for which English was a second language and of course, reading was a struggle for them. The teacher had 30 students and no teacher’s aide or any parental volunteer, so she was very challenged every day to teach and to keep them under some control.
Barley and I would usually have 15 or 16 students each week. They came out two at a time – one was there to pet Barley and the other read him a story. Then, they switched places. It seemed to work very well. Having Barley come to the classroom was like having a rock star visit them. They were always so excited and happy to see him and he seemed to feel the same way. To lose the privilege of reading to Barley was just about the worst punishment they could receive. As our visits progressed, I was able to see that about 6 children were having trouble reading even the simplest of books and at least 2 of them – Oscar and Cristina - were not able to read at all. Oscar slowly progressed but Cristina did not. That is, until our next to last visit when it was again Cristina’s turn to read to Barley. She came out and as usual, just wanted to know what she was going to get for reading and so forth. I explained that this would be her last opportunity to read to Barley and he was really looking forward to hearing her read at least one or two very simple pages. Up to this time, she had not read one single word and instead just guessed at the words. On this day, she became a little more serious and opened the book and with an enormous effort on her part was able to read very slowly 3 or 4 pages. I was so shocked and almost moved to tears. It just reinforced my dedication to this reading program….to think that this little dog could inspire this little girl to try and read was just so wonderful. I took her picture with Barley that day so that she could kiss him and love him.
On the last day we visited the classroom, I read “Cool Dog, School Dog” to the children and then I presented each of them with a certificate (that I found at the dollar store) that said “Super Reader”. I put each child’s name on the certificates; then the teacher and I called each one up separately to receive their little award and a bookmark. I also gave each child a book from a collection of books I found at a garage sale (as many as I wanted for $1). I told them that Barley was counting on them all reading every day. When they came up to get their award, they had the opportunity to pet Barley for the last time and I saw a few tears in their eyes.
It is my privilege to be a part of this program and share these experiences with Barley.
As I mentioned to you at the time that this program goes to Woodmoor, where my son attends school. It was Mark and Annie that made school something to look forward to and gave my son the confidence to speak to others about Annie, whom he was so proud to be walking! My son has among other things severe speech apraxia, which means he understands what you say to him, but he has a very hard time with enunciation, and most of the time no one understands him. At the age of 5 1/2 he has started to notice that he is different, actually tells me other people's ears don't work when he talks and has become very shy around children.
With the help of Annie, Mark, and your Reading with Rover program, my son can't wait to tell all the other kids about this great dog he has! When Annie is there, he forgets about his speech issues and they have a reference for what he is talking about... a dog.
I know you have done so much to get this program into the schools and I as a parent wanted to thank you! I have always been a dog lover and to see my son have the same love gives us a real special connection! I always knew dogs had a magical draw to them.
I have started with another Mom, called Northshore Special Families. We have many events with one of them being a playgroup every third saturday of the month. I would love to find out if any of you would be interested in coming to one of these events and sharing this experience with others. I can explain more to you when we speak.
Sorry if I seemed to go on and on. I have been meaning to e-mail you for quite some time now.
Thank you for finding such a great way to connect people, dogs, acceptance and self esteem.
Our daughter has NLD a Non Verbal Learning disorder which effects her in many ways. One being reading and another is non verbal social cues. She is very smart and so sweet but she realizes she is different and making friends is very hard for her. She is self conscious about reading out loud but when she read to the Reading with Rover dogs it was amazing. She wanted to read to every one of them that very first night and ever since then we have made it to every Reading with Rover event and will continue to do so.
Our daughter gets headaches every time she reads so it makes it very hard to motivate her to read but not at Reading with Rover. She doesn't feel judged and that is so wonderful for her. We have seen a big improvement in her fluency and she has even started to read a little to her own puppy now, which we hope to train to be a Reading with Rover dog in the future.
I would recommend this program to any parent whether their child loves to read or not, it is just a great experience all around. Every one of the dogs and their handlers is so wonderful with the kids. My husband and I are avid readers and we have been reading to her since she was a baby and when we couldn't seem to break through that barrier to get her to enjoy reading by herself we felt helpless but we don't feel that way anymore and it is all due to your Reading with Rover program! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping our daughter raise her self esteem and know the joys of reading.
Thank you so much for doing this program. I am so excited myself about going to see all the Rovers this summer. I was working tonight so I didn't get to meet all the Rovers.
Thank you for the loan of the books as well. I am sorry it took me so long to get them back to you.
Have a great day!
Thanks Becky, for starting this group. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that you are helping the next generation.
Thank you again for recommending the program. Nate’s reading or at least his attitude is taking off. I couldn’t be happier.
Our team at Windermere Green Lake recently started a campaign to keep low-income kids academically engaged this summer. We felt passionately about this cause because our office sits in the center of the vibrant Green Lake community filled with many family activities, and as we approach summer, this is a reminder that for many, the cost of these activities can be too much.
This campaign is about giving to low-income kids in the Green Lake area elementary schools (grades K-5) a way to stay academically engaged in the summer through a variety of donated school supplies.
We never anticipated such a quick response and generous donation. From the bi-lingual coloring books, bags, and monetary donation, your incredible generosity has touched us all. I wanted to personally thank you for taking the time out to support these kids who do not have the same means as other kids do, and because of your participation, they will be able to access these resources this summer.
Your giving spirit is an inspiration to us all.
"Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." - Martin Luther King Jr.
From everyone at Windermere Green Lake, we thank you for all your hearts full of grace.
She has a child who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (age 6). She recently began bringing her to our Reading with Rover program. At one particular visit, while the daughter was reading to a dog, she was reading fluently in a way that she was never able to do with her parents or other adults. The mom had no idea that the daughter could read that well, because she has seen no evidence of that capability herself. The mom was overwhelmed.
To me, this spoke of the relevance (with a capital R) of the special bond children can have with animals, especially children who may have other challenges to deal with on a daily basis. I’m so thankful for Reading with Rover, what an awesome program! May it live into infinity!
I just want to again express my gratitude to you for all the training I received over the years. You provided us with all the skills necessary to be a successful therapy team.
Now that I have updated our certification I will work on getting certified with RWR. I will schedule my dogless shadows soon. Then do my floor time with kids.
Bella did superb on her aptitude part of the test! The examiner, loved the "hug" part of it. A very big change from her testing last time 2 years ago when you tested us. Not sure if you remember, but she was challenged with the aptitude exercises during her initial testing. I think her maturity helped with her ability to be more relaxed, despite testing in a new environment.
The two of us, although not perfect, showed our ability to recover and be successful.
I really can't thank you enough!
Look forward to the future with RWR in addition to our nursing home visits .
Every one of you are so engaging, patient and encouraging to families. On behalf of all our visitors and staff Thank you to everyone who participates in the Reading with Rover program.