Since its early beginnings in 1973, The Lewis School of Princeton has been a leading pioneer in providing arts-integrated, language-based multisensory education. The school continues to develop, implement and expand a new vision and direction for education. The Lewis School’s distinctive educational environment offers each student a unique, customized and individualized learning experience.
One of those incomparable programs is Children and Animals Realizing Education, otherwise known as C.A.R.E.©, the school’s Therapy Dog Program. The program was developed and implemented by Tara Vinson McCullough, Lewis School alumna and Master Learning Therapist. C.A.R.E.© incorporates animals’ unconditional love and patience into the education of today’s youth. This consistent, daily interaction enhances students’ growth in three different areas: academic, emotional and social.
In the "C.A.R.E.© To Read" program, students take a C.A.R.E.© dog into a classroom and read aloud to him. There’s no one to correct mispronunciations or to criticize, only a cold nose, warm tongue and a gentle nudge to urge them on. The ability to read aloud, first to a dog, then to teachers, parents, and eventually a classroom of peers, is a task that, at one time, could’ve terrified a child. Now it’s a task to be handled with confidence and skill.
Therapy dogs have an innate ability to sense when a child is reaching his frustration level. Our Certified Therapy Dogs are trained to offer support and comfort to students who’ve reached this point. When a C.A.R.E.© dog senses this emotion, he’ll assist the student by quietly approaching him, often placing his head in the child’s lap, supporting the child and letting him know that he’s loved.
Our C.A.R.E.© dogs act as role models by modeling positive social behaviors. Many learning different students have difficulty understanding the underlying skill involved in social activities. C.A.R.E.© dogs are trained to quietly walk away if a child is acting inappropriately towards them. This simple act sends a clear message that what the child is doing is unacceptable. Due to the multisensory dynamics of this daily reinforcement of proper social interaction, children are able to implement and succeed socially within and outside of the school setting.
The Lewis School currently has 4 working Certified Therapy Dogs. To learn more about The Lewis School and its programs, please call 609-924-8120 or visit us at lewisschool.org.
The Lewis School, 53, Bayard Lane, Princeton. 609-924-8120. lewisschol.org.