By Denise Cole, Roots of Empathy – SCDSB Coordinator
Earlier this month, the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) celebrated 18 of our youngest and most influential educators – all under a year old! Our “tiny teachers” and their parents support the Roots of Empathy (ROE) program in elementary schools across the SCDSB. Founded in Toronto in 1996 by Mary Gordon, ROE is an internationally recognized, evidence-based program focused on building levels of empathy and decreasing aggression and bullying. The program has reached over half a million students around the world.
In the ROE program, a community parent and baby, aged 2-4 months old in the fall, visit a classroom nine times over the school year. A trained ROE Instructor visits with the family to guide children as they observe the relationship between the baby and the parent. An additional 18 classes facilitated by the Instructor deepens student learning to help them understand the impact of the loving attachment between parent and baby that they observed, foster student learning on human development, temperament, safe and healthy parenting and more.
The program uses perspective-taking to help students to develop empathy for their peers, helps students to develop emotional literacy, increases knowledge of human development and infant safety, and prepares students for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting.
In the SCDSB, the program is taught by both volunteers and public health nurses from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. We are always looking for new instructors and families. Those interested in finding out more or applying should email firstname.lastname@example.org.