The primary school setting has proved to be really receptive to working with our school dogs in everyday situations that affect their social, emotional and educational development challenges.
The school dog and practitioner teams help to create a calm environment to encourage focus and attention on a specific learning such as maths or writing and help encourage confidence and participation.
Their presence helps to relax the child ensuring they are in a comfortable state of mind and receptive to the challenges for that day.
Case study – Sofia
Sofia is a year six pupil attending a mainstream school. She has a disruptive home life and displays angry and violent outbursts towards her sister at home and to peers at school.
- To reduce outbursts at school
- To increase the amount of time spent in class
The CAL emotional regulation programme was used to enable Sofia to recognise and understand emotions within herself i.e. what the emotion is, how and where it feels, what the reaction is, what her level of reaction is.
Once emotions were identified and understood we would look at identifying and understanding triggers and then put strategies in place to manage them.
For Sofia these strategies included breathing exercises, being able to remove herself from the situation and releasing the anger in a different way before she became violent – she was able to identify the feeling of getting hot and her teeth becoming clenched as an indicator.
A soft toy version of the dog she was working with was given to her – one for home and one for school. The soft toy was used to cuddle when needed and as a visual reminder of her strategies given to her by the dog.
Each week she was able to verbalise to the CAL school assistance dog team any incidents that had occurred over the week and talk through them. Shewas able to identify where strategies could have been used differently and how to implement them if a similar situation was to arise.
- Overall reduced outbursts at school and home.
- Improved and less violent relationship with her sister. The reduced incidents at home resulted in improved family time and days out to places that she had been unable to attend previously due to behaviour.
- Increased settled and productive time spent as part of her class, meaning a greater access to education and less disruption for her peers.
Consultancy School Dog Services is where one of our team of a trained school assistance dog and practitioner can visit your school for one-to-one sessions and Affiliate School Dog Services is where we can offer a training and support programme for your own school dog for this setting.