This year P2a and P2b are experiencing a programme called Roots of Empathy.
The sessions are delivered by our, in school, trained, instructor; Mrs Harris-Toner, who is supported by Mrs McDermot and Miss Percival.
The programme aims to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.
The focus of ‘Roots of Empathy’, long term is to build the capacity of the next generation for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting, while in the short term raising levels of empathy resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reducing levels of bullying and aggression.
Roots of Empathy Baby as “Teacher”
At the heart of the programme are an infant and parent who visit the classroom nine times over the school year.
Our ‘Roots of Empathy’ family is Ms Younger and her son Arthur. Our Instructor Mrs Harris-Toner coaches the children to observe the baby’s development and to label the baby’s feelings and intentions.
In this experiential learning, the baby is the “Teacher” and a lever that the Instructor uses to help children to identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.
The emotional literacy taught in the programme lays the foundation for more safe and caring classrooms, where children are the “Changers.” They are more competent in understanding their own feelings and the feelings of others (empathy), and are therefore less likely to physically, psychologically and emotionally hurt each other through bullying and other emotional cruelties. The cognitive aspect of empathy is perspective-taking and the affective aspect is emotion.
Roots of Empathy educates both the mind and heart
Research on the ‘Roots of Empathy’ programme has shown that children who participate in the programme know more about emotions and feelings, are kinder to their friends, are less aggressive and bully other children less than those who do not have Roots of Empathy.
The programme covers 9 themes:
- Meeting the baby
- Caring and Planning for a Baby
- Who Am I?
- Goodbye and Good Wishes.
Each Theme has a Pre Family Visit, Family Visit and Post Family Visit:
The Pre Family Visit
The children have 9 visits with Mrs Harris-Toner prior to the family coming to visit, where we focus on infant development and preparation for ‘Family Visit’.
This offers the children the opportunity to predict what changes they may see in the baby’s development at the ‘Family Visit’.
The Family Visit
There are 9 visits with Mrs Harris-Toner, Ms Younger and Arthur. The Instructor guides children’s observations of the baby’s feelings, intentions, and the attachment relationship. Also demonstrating the baby’s physical and emotional development and temperament, and interacts with the baby through music (eg. singing songs) and early learning games (e.g. peek-a-boo) and the children ask parent(s) questions about the baby.
Post Family Visit
There are 9 visits post family visits. Where the children reflect on their own feelings and focus on understanding the feelings of others (empathy). Also the programme utilises children’s literature and art/writing are used to foster perspective taking, the cognitive aspect of empathy.