The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum bridges the domains
of humane education and social-emotional learning,
building on children's natural affinity for pets and
providing a real-life context within which to teach
social and emotional skill. The goal is to support
the development of confident and caring children who
can make a difference in the lives of people, animals,
and the environment.
The Curriculum is based on the Resiliency Model. The
research on resiliency has shown the importance of
providing families with support services, as well
as increasing families' skills to enable them to cope
during times of stress. Children, too, need to be
equipped with effective skills, strategies, and resources
to deal with stressors or challenges they may encounter.
One aspect of resiliency is the ability to recognize
when we need help and where and how to succeed in
obtaining help. In the Curriculum, we foster resiliency
in a series of lessons designed to help children identify
their strengths, skills and talents, as well as areas
they need to improve and where they may need help.
Children learn how and when to seek help, strategies
for self-talk, and ways to encourage themselves and
challenge self-doubt and criticism.
Social Emotional Learning
The research on Emotional Intelligence and Social
Emotional Learning is at the core of the Curriculum.
Emotional Intelligence refers to the ability to identify
and manage emotions and understand how the way we
feel can affect not only our own, but others' actions.
Social-emotional competence requires self- and social-awareness
and enables children and adults to engage in positive
relationships, make ethnical and responsible decisions,
and avoid high-risk and negative choices and behaviors.
These skills can be taught and in the Mutt-i-grees®
Curriculum, we present lessons within five themes
based on social and emotional learning. One of the
themes is Encouraging Empathy. Empathy is the foundation
of the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum and refers to
the ability to understand how others feel and respond
in caring ways. The primary environments in which
children develop - specifically home and school -
and the interactions with adults in these environments
contribute to children's capacity for empathy. Children
who experience nurturing relationships are more likely
to develop compassion and confidence. Throughout the
Curriculum, we provide strategies and activities to
help teachers and parents engage children and model
and encourage empathic behavior.
An important aspect of social and emotional well-being
is physical health. Children who are active and in
good physical health are better able to handle every
day stresses that occur at home, the playground, or
school. They are also more receptive to learning.
We encourage teachers and families to incorporate
some form of exercise during the day to ensure that
children are physically fit. However, this does not
need to be as extensive as allotting a specific period
for physical education. Physical activities such as
playing on the playground, dancing to music, moving
around the classroom, or jumping in place contribute
to young children's physical fitness. Some teachers
also encourage activity breaks during the course of
daily classroom instruction to help children be calmer,
happier, and more able to focus on learning. Lessons
throughout the Curriculum incorporate games and activities
that get children up and moving within the classroom.
In some lessons, we also include breathing and stretching
exercises and yoga to complement teachers' efforts
to help students manage their emotions and maintain
a calm disposition.
In its integration of Mutt-i-gree® dogs, the Curriculum
is considered not only a social and emotional learning
program, but also a significant contribution to humane
education efforts. Humane education focuses on others'
needs and the ability to consider another's perspective–whether
it is an animal or person–and the impact of
one's actions on other people, animals, and environment
around them. In addition, the Curriculum builds on
the emerging research on the benefits of human-animal
interaction. Pet ownership continues to grow in the
United States, especially among families with young
children and recent research demonstrates social,
emotional, behavioral, and physical benefits of human-animal
interaction. Children, in particular, have demonstrated
a natural affinity for animals, and increased contact
with animals may foster more nurturing behavior and
social skills. Pets, of course, and in particular
Mutt-i-grees®, are highlighted in the Curriculum
and activities. In addition, therapy dogs and visits
to animal shelters provide opportunities for enhancing
the child-animal bond.
Understanding Dog Behavior
The Curriculum presents a unique opportunity to teach
children effective ways to interact with dogs. Integrated
throughout the Curriculum are specific lessons based
on dog whisperer Cesar Millan's principles. These
lessons were developed in conjunction with Cesar Millan
to convey to children facts about the instincts and
behavior of dogs so they can better interact with
and care for dogs. For example, there are differences
in the way people and dogs learn about the world around
them. A child meeting someone for the first time would
use his eyes to look at the person, his ears to listen
to what the person is saying. A dog always uses his
nose first, eyes second and ears third. Knowing this
enables children to understand how to approach a new
dog by first letting him sniff the back of the hand.
It also provides a context for understanding the many
different roles dogs may have, using their powerful
sense of smell to assist in solving crimes and providing
For more information about the
Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum, please visit http://education.muttigrees.org.
You may also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (203) 432-9944.