Therapy (PAT) Dogs have become an intergral part of school life at Holmewood House School, providing comfort and easing anxiety for pupils across the year groups. Here, we get to know a little bit more about the group of four dogs who have made such a positive impression on the school
Research has demonstrated that therapy dogs, properly managed in the school setting, can not only make a measurable difference in terms of gaining various skills such as reading enhancement, but also in contributing critically to emotional and relational development, and this is certainly our experience at Holmewood House. The presence of our therapy dogs decrease anxiety and enable pupils to work through issues such as conflict resolution, empathy, compassion, emotional regulation and others psycho/social problems.
These benefits can be categorised into the following 5 areas of a child’s development:
Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses
Social – time with a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, promotes greater self-esteem and wellbeing, and focused interaction with others.
Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem solving and game playing.
Emotional – an adorable four-legged friend improves self-esteem, acceptance from others, and lifts mood, often provoking laughter.
Environmental – a dog in a facility decreases the feeling of a sterile environment and can lift moods.
Here at Holmewood the introduction to Therapy Dogs started five years ago with one dog; we now have four wonderful companions. Let us introduce you:
Albert is five years old and loves coming to school. He gets so excited when the children arrive in the morning as he knows he will get lots of lovely cuddles.
He is very good at understanding when children and adults are upset and they need just a little TLC to make them feel better and will often lay his head on their laps. He loves going out on break duty as the children provide him with an endless supply of sticks.
Albert is wonderful at making the classroom and Junior School feel calm and will often nudge up to children under their desks – he may be seen lying in the corridor keeping a watchful eye to make sure everyone is safe and sound and he is always there to listen.
Baloo was born on the 31st of March 2016. He is a chocolate Labrador and has been attending Holmewood since he was nine weeks old, successfully passing his PAT test at the age of one.
He is based upstairs in the Collings building, bringing much happiness to children and his outdoor walks have been popular with Lower and Upper School children.
Baloo is also active in the local community and visits the Hospice in the Weald yearly with the school Choir, as well as a sheltered accommodation in Crowborough, during the holidays.
Since her start at Holmewood, Molly is well known for her love of chasing tennis balls and sniffing out any dropped cheese at break times.
Mrs Spoor is her human and both can be found in the Prep school, where Molly enjoys attending lessons, hearing readers and being a patient and non-judgemental listener.
She was adopted by the Spoor family when she was between one and two years old after a very sad start to life, however she has bounced back with a love of life over the past seven years.
Molly thoroughly enjoys her days at Holmewood, especially when children are kind enough to rub her tummy.
Fergus is Holmewood’s newest PAT dog and can be found in Pre Prep where he just loves being with the children, hearing readers and watching intently as his ‘Mum’ Mrs Riches Marshall uses visual objects to explain place value.
At the age of 10 he is very used to children and has four of his own home ranging from five to 17, so loves cuddles and being stroked. His calm and kind nature can be seen in the way he interacts with the class.
Albert, Baloo, Molly and Fergus are integral members of our school community and the important role they play in supporting our pupils is evident to everyone.
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