P2 Enjoying Roots of Empathy Program 

 

This year P2a Miss McArthur’s classP2b Mrs Chadwick’s and P2’s in Mrs McDermot’s class are experiencing a very special programme called Roots of Empathy. The programme is delivered by trained Instructor Mrs Harris-Toner. 

 

The programme aims to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. The long term focus of Roots of Empathy is to build the capacity of the next generation for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting. And in the short term, Roots of Empathy focuses on raising levels of empathy, resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reduced levels of bullying and aggression.

 

Roots of Empathy Baby as “Teacher”

At the heart of the programme are a neighbourhood infant and parent who visit the classroom nine times over the school year. Our Roots of Empathy families are Kirsty Chatwin-Lee and her son Harry and Maxine Fallon and her son Jamie. 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 earning, 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 children especially enjoyed when Baby Harry and his mum came to visit, they sang Twinkle Twinkle at the end of the session and he fell straight to sleep. And they were delighted to meet Baby Jamie and ask his mum lots of interesting questions.

 

Emotional Literacy/Perspective-Taking 

 

This “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 effective aspect is emotion. Roots of Empathy educates both the mind and heart. Research on the Roots of Empathy program has shown that children who participate in the program 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 many topics including crying, caring for a baby, emotions, sleep, safety and communication.  

 

Each topic has a Pre Family Visit, Family Visit and Post Family Visit:

 

The Pre Family VisitThe children have nine 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 VisitThere are nine visits our Roots of Empathy Families. 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 the parents questions about the baby.

 

Post Family VisitThere are nine visits with Mrs Harris-Toner post the family visit. 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.

 

For more information please ask Mrs Harris-Toner, Miss McArthur, Mrs Chadwick and MrsMcDermot. Also check out our Roots of Empathy noticeboard in P2b’s classroom andwww.rootsofempathy.org.

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