This week, the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) celebrated 20 of our youngest and most influential educators – all under a year old! Our “tiny teachers” and their parents support the Roots of Empathy program in elementary schools across the SCDSB. Roots of Empathy is an internationally recognized, evidence-based program focused on building levels of empathy and decreasing aggression and bullying in schools around the world.
In the Roots of Empathy program, a community parent and baby (aged two to four months old in the fall) visit a classroom nine times over the course of the school year. A trained Roots of Empathy 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 deepen student learning to help them understand the impact of the loving attachment between parent and baby that they observed, and 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.
Roots of Empathy was founded in 1996 by Mary Gordon in Toronto, Canada, and became a charitable not-for-profit organization in 2000. To date, the program has reached over half a million children worldwide. In the SCDSB, the program is facilitated by trained instructors – both volunteers, Public Health Nurses from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and Child and Youth Workers from the SCDSB. We are always looking for new instructors and families. Those interested in finding out more or applying should email firstname.lastname@example.org.