Gifts for our Tiny Teachers

Roots of Empathy Baby Celebration 2017

On May 29, the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) celebrated our sixth year of Roots of Empathy, a unique program that brings a Tiny Teacher – a baby in their first months of life – into elementary classrooms. The 2016-17 school year saw Roots of Empathy in almost 30 SCDSB schools, led by volunteers, SCDSB staff and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) Public Health Nurses.

This year we celebrated the remarkable contributions of all of our Roots of Empathy instructors, families and babies with a picnic at the Education Centre. Hope Park, a volunteer instructor who has been facilitating the program in the SCDSB since 2012, was honoured for five years of service with the program. Director of Education Steve Blake and many SCDSB superintendents of education were in attendance to meet and thank our little ones and their families, and acknowledge the power of the program and the work of all of our Roots of Empathy Instructors.

 

Roots of Empathy is an international evidence-based program that started in Toronto. By observing the growth and development of the baby and the attachment between the baby and their parents, students in Roots programs learn to be more caring and empathic global citizens. Since 2000, the program has been evaluated in numerous independent research studies, which have shown that children who participate in the program demonstrate decreased aggression and increased social and emotional understanding, empathy, knowledge of parenting and pro-social behavior (e.g. sharing, helping and including). This program supports our board’s work to ensure equitable, inclusive, safe and caring schools.

For further information, please contact the Roots of Empathy key point persons for the SCDSB, Stephanie Ross and Denise Cole, at roots@scdsb.on.ca.

The 2016 Roots of Empathy tiny teachers group photo

Our Tiny Teachers

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 roots@scdsb.on.ca.