How does our Therapy Dog support our children at Amity Amsterdam?
In recent years, there's been a heartwarming shift happening within schools worldwide. A change that's all about warmth, wagging tails, and boundless enthusiasm—the rise of therapy dogs. In classrooms from the U.S. to Australia, these furry companions have become an integral part of the educational landscape, leaving an indelible mark on students and educators. They aren't just cute distractions; they're catalysts for emotional growth, cognitive development, and social connection. Therefore, in this blog, we'd like to explore what a therapy dog truly is and uncover the magic they have on our children.
What is a Therapy Dog?
A therapy dog is like a furry friend who's trained to make people feel better emotionally and socially. They're there to offer comfort and help in different situations, especially for our children. These special dogs can perform specific tasks or just be a source of love and cuddles. So, we can think of therapy dogs as friendly, comforting buddies who make life a little brighter.
On this note, we are very proud to introduce the newest member of our team: Therapy dog in training Mr Banx! He is in training to bring happiness and care to our children at Amity Amsterdam. Having him in our school has many benefits for our children.
What are the benefits of having a Therapy Dog for the children in our school?
1- Enhanced emotional well-being & reduced stress
It's no secret that dogs have an incredible way of making us smile. Therapy dogs are no exception. One of the most important benefits of therapy dogs is that they support children’s emotional well-being. According to research, petting a dog can trigger a release of hormones that promote feelings of happiness and relaxation. But it's not just about biochemical reactions; therapy dogs are fantastic listeners and companions. They offer comfort and emotional support, serving as a trusted confidant for our children during their school day. Having Mr Banx outside of the exam hall before their exams can help our students deal with test anxiety and feelings of worry. If our students feel anxious during the test, Mr Banx can also be there to support them and help them to relax.
2- Improved Focus & Concentration
Therapy dogs aren't just about emotional support; they can also help children with anxiety and stress, allowing them to tackle their schoolwork with a calm and focused mind. The presence of therapy dogs in school has been linked to improved attention spans in children. Short interactions with these furry friends between lessons give children a chance to take short breaks, recharge their energy, and enhance their ability to concentrate during class positively. In addition, having a therapy dog around, during the exam period of the school year can support students’ nervousness and can improve their focus. Before the exams, being supported by Mr Banx can sharpen their mind and focus their attention.
3- Enhanced Motivation & Attendance
One remarkable impact of therapy dogs on children is that they can enhance motivation and attendance rates. Sometimes, motivating children to attend school can be challenging, especially when they are dealing with various other factors like learning a new language, being in a new class with unfamiliar faces, and academic pressure. The presence of therapy dogs can reduce or even eliminate anxiety, making it easier for kids to come to school with a smile. For example, at Amity Amsterdam, for our Early Years transition into school, Mr Banx can reduce our new students’ parent attachment and give them the motivation and the emotional support to come to school.
4- Increased Empathetic Behaviours and Trust
When children greet and bond with a therapy dog every day, their empathetic skills improve as they learn to care for another living being's needs and emotions. These children are also likely to have more empathy in the future. Having these skills facilitates positive social interactions among children, which can be the foundation for developing trust. The relationship that our students have with Mr Banx can also foster empathetic skills for both our Senior and Primary School students. In this way, they are learning to care for other living being’s needs.
5- Developing and Maintaining Stronger Relationships
As children connect with therapy dogs and learn to develop trusting relationships, they tend to have better social interactions and relationships at school with their peers. This usually happens naturally because therapy dogs can act as conversation starters. This way, children expand their social circle, which contributes to the development of a supportive network.
6- Having Open Communication
Open communication with our children is vital for their adaptation and growth. Therapy dogs can be a great way to start a conversation with your child about their experiences at school. Asking questions like "Did you see Banx today? How did you spend time with him?" can lead to insightful conversations about their feelings, challenges, and interactions at school.
In conclusion, having therapy dogs in a school environment can have a profound impact on many emotional, cognitive, and social aspects of your child's life. Therapy dogs play a significant role in their emotional well-being, reducing anxiety, and offering support to children facing challenges. These positive changes can lead to enhanced focus and motivation, increased empathetic behaviour and trust, as well as help you maintain open and clear communication with your child.
We believe that providing our children with this unique opportunity to meet our Therapy Dog Mr Banx can be a valuable investment in their overall development!