Reading adventures with MJ, the dog

Do you know an early elementary student finding it challenging to read, especially out loud? Then reading to MJ, a registered therapy dog, may be just the ticket to empower this reluctant reader. MJ and her sidekicks, Tom and Autumn, will be at the Ice Age Visitor Center (located off Hwy 67 half mile west of Dundee) on Saturday, January 17, and the third Saturdays of the month through April. Participants can drop any time between 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. Before or after the reading session, kids can create a fun winter craft to take home.

So why read to a dog? For many children learning to read is often not so much an intellectual limitation, but more about overcoming fears. Dogs are ideal reading companions because they:

Help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure

Listen attentively

Do not judge, laugh, or criticize

Allow children to proceed at their own pace

Are less intimidating than peers

When a dog is listening, a child’s dread is replaced by eager anticipation, and learning occurs. Tom and Autumn, as MJ handlers, will shift the performance pressure off the child and provide support offering the child supervised reading practice to build his/her vocabulary, increase understanding, and gain fluency as a reader. Some of the other side benefits include building self-esteem, confidence, and social skills.

For further information or directions to the Ice Age Visitor Center, please contact a staff member at (920) 533-8322. The Ice Age Visitor Center winter hours are Wednesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


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