father and son walking a dog with tomNellie’s Schoolhouse is an organization dedicated to creating and maintaining ongoing therapeutic relationships between children with autism, depression and anxiety and well trained and well-behaved dogs. In our program, screened volunteers and their dogs visit children and their families in their own homes.

During 30-45 minute prescribed visits, children learn leash handling skills, proper and safe petting, treating, feeding, grooming and silent and verbal commands as well as how to understand and read a dog’s body language, facial expressions and voice. In this continuing interaction over the course of weeks and, in some instances, months, children learn important life skills such as responsibility, reliability, spontaneity, patience, perseverance, focus and empathy and gain dramatically in their self -confidence.

Read Nellie’s Schoolhouse Testimonials

Goals of Nellie’s Schoolhouse

Nellie's schoolhouse student with a dogOur program helps children gain independence and self-confidence through the following activities:

  • Teaching a child how to properly approach and pet a dog.
  • Teaching a child how to effectively groom a dog.
  • Teaching a child how to correctly treat and feed a dog.
  • Teaching a child how to safely and securely leash walk a dog.
  • Teaching a child how to give and implement verbal and non-verbal commands to dogs.
  • Teaching children how to understand the language of dogs and feel comfortable around their canine friends.

Highlights of Nellie’s Schoolhouse

girl petting dog
  • An individualized behavioral, social and educational curriculum for each child.
  • Program developed and implemented in collaboration with program director,educational counselor, certified dog trainer and families.
  • Children’s progress evaluated and shared with parents during and at the conclusion of the program.
  • Volunteers and their dogs screened before acceptance into the program.
  • 30-45 minute sessions.
  • Minimum of eight sessions.

Who We Serve

Nellie’s Schoolhouse has worked with the following organizations and schools & continues to work with many of them.

  • Great Expectations Together
  • The TALK Institute and School
  • Uwchlan Hills Elementary School Autism Program
  • Downingtown Middle School Autism Program
  • A Step Up Academy
  • The Woodlynde School
  • Judith Creed Homes for Adult Independence
  • Pan American Charter School
  • St. James School
  • The Center for Autism (summer)

  • The Friendship Circle
  • Arch Street Preschool
  • Hilltop Preparatory School
  • Norwood School
  • William Penn Charter School
  • Camp Pegasus (summer)
  • Carousel Connections (summer)
  • The Kinney Center (summer)
  • Strafford Friends School
  • The Quaker School at Horsham