Dogs really are a man’s best friend – just ask the pupils at Killara Primary School in Sunbury.
Each week several pupils get the chance to work one-on-one with four-legged friends through the Canine Comprehension program, a program aimed at helping children re-engage with their learning.
Canine Comprehension director Sarah Macdonald said the program involved child councillors, allied health workers and educators.
“[We] work with children who have anxiety or school refusal or who have a background with trauma and are having trouble seeing learning as a priority because of everything else going on in their life,” Ms Macdonald said.
“We run school programs and do one-on-one work to help kids reconnect with their learning and understand their own learning processes.”
The dogs visit the school every Thursday and work with several students throughout the day.
“The kids will teach the dogs a trick and we get to talk about the stages of learning and we also talk about when the dog has a moment of not knowing what to do or confusion,” Ms Macdonald said.
“We also do mindfulness work with the kids, where they’ll put their hands on the dog for self soothing … it’s their emotional literacy.”
Ms Macdonald said the children enjoyed their new style of learning.
“When we meet parents … they say ‘they keep hearing stories about the dogs constantly,’” she said.
“It’s something really positive for them to look forward to and something they can also show off to the other students.”