Introducing Dora, the new literacy mentor to primary students at the British School, Quito

This month the team in Quito have welcomed a very special new member of staff to the team. Dora the therapy dog. This is the first of the Orbital schools to introduce an animal to support learning and staff and students alike are excited to welcome her.

Dora comes to school on a Friday, dressed for the occasion in her properly marked vest. She is currently being introduced to her new surroundings and then, in time, will listen to students read in a controlled setting accompanied by her adult.

So what are the benefits of having a school dog? Principal Emma Newman explains:

"There have been numerous research studies showing the benefits of therapy dogs in schools. Therapy dogs have been working in schools for the past 5 years across the UK. However, they have been commonplace in schools in the USA and Australia for many years

Evidence indicates that benefits include:

  • Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing
  • Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others
  • Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety.
  • 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
  • Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
  • Reading – reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dog’s presence has on children as well as the fact that a dog will listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence to read aloud.

Here in Ecuador, this is still a new field that we are excited to put in place for the benefit of our students and

we are delighted to welcome Dora to the British School Quito family and embrace all that she has to offer the school."