Valley assistant professor: Get kids to read to pets to advance learning skills

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EDINBURG – Children are at home more now since a statewide order forced schools to close for the remainder of the year. Experts say it’s a good time to have parents help them gain their reading skills by having their child read to their pet.

Denise Silcox, clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, says children feel less nervous reading to animals. She added there are also health benefits.

“Petting a dog for five minutes reduces blood pressure significantly. They've done studies that show after surgery, people need less pain medication if they have a pet. It can take some of the pressure off of parents that are struggling to get their kids to read, because it's fun to read to the dogs. They can curl up on the bed or on the couch or on the floor and read to the animal,” explained Silcox.

Silcox says the research shows that reading to an animal can also help children increase their reading levels, sometimes by as much as a whole letter grade.

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