Roots of Empathy is an international anti-bullying and compassion building program founded by Toronto teacher Mary Gordon. Longitudinal research by local colleges and universities have shown that students who participate in the year long program have fewer incidences of aggression on the playground, show more empathy for others feelings, and are better able to solve conflicts peacefully.
How does this happen? The students participate in 27 lessons such as why babies cry, emotions, communication, who am I, shaken baby syndrome and prevention, and good wishes for the baby. These lessons are reinforced with monthly mom and baby visits to the classroom. While students observe developmental changes in the baby, they also learn to read baby’s cues and find ways to help soothe the baby. As the relationship between the students and the baby grows, so does their empathy for others.
This year the program was offered to Mr. Sloane’s grade ¾ class and Mrs. Hollman/Poon’s Grade 5/6 class. Our program would also not have happened without the support of our principal, Mrs. Wagner. This year we were delighted to have a set of twin boys!
Mom and Mrs. Williamson brought in DJ and Rien to visit our student every month. The students gratitude to their baby teachers were shown in handmade gifts including a book of hand drawn nursery rhymes, a DVD starring DJ and Rien, a binder of personal wishes for the babies, and a cake. Perhaps the program is best summed up by one of the boys who said, “ I don’t really know why, but when one of the babies, smile at me, I just feel really good inside.”
Roots of Empathy instructor Lisa Morris taught the program. This is the second year that Lisa has taught the program at Keephills School.