Fletcher makes school days fun

ST Laurence’s Primary School has had a full time dog in the classrooms and school yard for some time now.
Fletcher, an eight month old Border Collie cross Koolie belongs to teacher Ben Dixon who has been bringing him to the Leongatha school every day since the end of last year.
Every week, two students are assigned to be Fletcher’s carer, which involves taking him for walks, filling his water bowl, putting his toys away and picking up after he goes to the toilet.
“It teaches the students responsibility. Fletcher is only young so obedience training and encouraging appropriate classroom behaviours promote the students’ awareness regarding their own actions to be good role models in the classroom,” Mr Dixon said.
“Being Fletcher’s carer for the week is a highly regarded role in the classroom, as he is a very valued member of the class. “This can provide opportunities for more reserved students to engage in social interaction with their classmates as popular topic of conversation.”
Having a dog in the classroom can be used as an incentive for good behaviour or as a reward for students.
Students from other grades often visit to take Fletcher for walks; he provides an opportunity for respite from a busy classroom.
“For those students who do not have pets at home, or have never had a pet, it builds positive interactions with animals,” he said.
“It is also educates children on safety when owning a pet and what they need to do when approaching a dog, approaching others with a dog and near roads.”
When Fletcher was first getting comfortable, students took on the responsibility to provide a quiet, calm environment and educate the school community about how to safely behave around animals.
Mr Dixon said the students were excited initially however the novelty has still not worn off six months later.
“The students regularly remind each other to complete all caring tasks, close the door to the classroom and make sure he has regular toilet breaks, water and is in the right place,” Mr Dixon said.
“Fletcher occasionally attends drama, art and other specialist classes with his classmates.”
Student Nathan said he gets through his work quickly with Fletcher around.
“He likes to play around during breaks and lunchtime, and sometimes we get to walk him around the yard during class which gives us a little break,” Nathan said.
Fletcher also teaches children empathy, pride, accomplishment, a sense of belonging and being a valued class member.
“The children who lack confidence find it much easier to talk to him, engage with him and therefore other students who are around him,” Mr Dixon said.
“The class is always very disappointed and miss him dearly when he takes days off to visit the vet and the farm or go for a swim.”
Occasionally a student will bring in their pet for Fletcher to meet or a soft toy gift.
Chasey at lunchtime is a favourite game for Fletcher and students from all grades, although he tends to be elusive and spends the whole lunch being chased by a mob of children.

Quiet time: St Laurence’s Primary School students Cassidy and Archie spend their down time at school reading books along with school dog Fletcher at the Leongatha school.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=25075

Posted by on Jun 5 2018. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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