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Calming Dogs at School

By: Jessica Jin

The United Kingdom and British researchers, did a test on how to reduce stress in students in both special needs and mainstream schools. Reducing stress is important because excess stress negatively affects students’ education, health, actions, and happiness.

Teachers and staff have tried yoga, mindfulness, physical activities, and having animals in the classroom as methods of stress reduction. The recent research found that dogs in classrooms help lower stress in students.

One hundred and five eight- and nine-year-olds from four mainstream schools and 44 children from seven special needs schools in the UK, participated in the study. Researchers have been measuring students' stress by looking at the level of stress hormone cortisol in their saliva.

Hormone cortisol is a type of glucocorticoid hormone. A glucocorticoid hormone is a chemical that is made from your brian’s thinking and feelings. The hormone cortisol is called the stress hormone because the higher the cortisol level, the more stressed someone is.

The kids were split up into three groups. One group spent time with a dog. The second group did a relaxation session, and the last group did neither of these things.

For four weeks, the kids in the dog group would spend time with the animal for 20 minutes twice a week. The dogs were specially trained for these kids so they would be very gentle and calm around them. For the same time, the relaxation group did relaxation exercises, like meditation.

Researcher Kerstin Meints from University of Lincoln said that the students in the relaxation and control group had an increase in cortisol levels while the students with the dog had much lower cortisol levels than all other groups.

Please link sources: easy description of hormone cortisol - Google Search, Dogs in schools lower student stress _ KidsNews.pdf

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