My oldest son went through a phase a few months ago where he wanted a dog. We already have a senior Miniature Schnauzer, but he would ask every day for a German Shepherd puppy of his own. With a new baby, three big kids and an aging dog to care for, the time just wasn’t right for adding a new pet to the family. However, at some point, I’m sure we will add a new pet or two to our home.
Raising children in a home with pets has so many benefits. Whether it’s a dog, cat, horse, rabbit or guinea pig, pets give unconditional love and can be a child’s best friend. Caring for family pets can teach children responsibility and empathy and can boost confidence and self-esteem. Studies have also shown that owning a pet may have health benefits such as lowing blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, decreasing allergies and keeping the family fit and active.
Did you know that pets can also help children boost academic skills? Reading to a pet provides extra reading practice and can help children increase their reading fluency in an enjoyable way. Animals are non-judgmental and can provide a safe and calming environment for a child to read aloud. Reading to a pet can help boost the confidence of a struggling reader as well.
If owning your own pet isn’t feasible for your family, many local libraries offer programs for children to read aloud to a volunteer therapy dog. The Locust Library offers a Read to a Therapy Dog program from 4-5:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Children must sign up in advance for a time slot. The Mint Hill Library offers a Paws to Read program at 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Check your local library’s schedule for similar programs.