Dog really has always been man’s best friend – and apparently best teacher too.

10 different elementary schools in Chicago are being visited by some scholarly pups to motivate at-risk kids toward a love of learning and reading.

The nonprofit, SitStayRead, organizes teams of volunteers to chaperone Dog Visits where kids get to read to dogs for one hour. Since the program started in 2003, it has reportedly helped students develop reading fluency 50% faster than non-participating

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The program’s methods vary per grade – fourth graders will sometimes be visited by Guest Readers reciting a poem or story pertaining to dogs, or they can use their Reading Rewards points earned from writing book reports to receive more Dog Visits. At the end of the year, the school hosts a Reading Rewards Celebration giving students a backpack filled with writing supplies and goodies for the summer. This helps stimulate the child’s desire to learn and supports a new love of reading.

In order to provide enrichment to those most in need, SitStayRead only provides year-long class volunteering for schools that are 90% low-income, with kids 60% below their grade reading level.

“Reading to a dog increases confidence and generates excitement about reading,” SitStayRead reports on their website. “These trained dogs, assisted by dog-themed books and writing assignments, change a child’s reading session from an abstract concept into a real life experience. Children get to read about a dog, see a dog, and touch a dog — an experience that leads to true and lasting learning.”Reading Buddies Program Berks CountyAnimalShelter

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Pups who seem up to snuff for joining a Dog Team must pass a simple test that rates the dog’s sociability. An evaluator will run around the dog making loud noises, ask for a sit/stay demonstration, and watch how calm the dog is during interaction.

These dogs got an A+

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