We’re back for the 2023/24 school year and we have one excited Forester, Maggie - our school therapy dog, who is very happy to see all her friends after the long summer break. Maggie was aware that there would be nerves, smiles and some tears on the first few days back but she is a trained therapy dog who is always on hand to calm all fears and is here to support and comfort her friends.
Maggie is a permanent fixture and a big part of the Forest family. Her role is to help all the children feel at ease during the day, she visits the classrooms and helps the children to learn their everyday tasks such as reading, maths and relationships. As an integral part of our wellbeing programme, Maggie is also there as a good friend and listener to children who can be shy or feel a little sad. She also helps our new Foresters to settle into Nursery and Early Years. Since Maggie joined Forest in June, the response to her has been overwhelmingly positive. Maggie is certainly very popular, attracting many children who love to say hello and engage with her. Maggie has already met and supported lots of pupils and visited them in their classrooms. Staff have also enjoyed some animal therapy too!
Research shows that there are many benefits to having a school therapy dog. Dogs can help children to regulate their own behaviour, they can reduce stress and improve wellbeing and self-esteem. Animals can help teachers and pupils develop better and stronger relationships as they bond together and share the same love for the therapy dog. They help with reading, there is less pressure and perceived judgement when reading to a dog, which is extremely beneficial for reluctant readers or those lacking in confidence.
Maggie is just one of a few animals at Forest. We also have our much loved tortoises, George and Mildred, and chickens who live in their very own chicken coop.
Our furry friends are truly making a difference to all our Foresters. We are looking forward to their many adventures together and making memories the children won’t forget.