Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program that has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among schoolchildren by raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. The program reaches elementary schoolchildren from Kindergarten to Grade 8. In Canada, the program is delivered in English and French and reaches rural, urban, and remote communities including Aboriginal communities. Roots of Empathy is also delivered in New Zealand, the United States, Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Radical Empathy Now was recently approved by the program's Founder and President, Mary Gordon, to implement the program in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We are honored to become the fifth city in the United States to welcome this revolutionary program into our educational systems.
We invite you to watch the videos below for a more in depth look at this revolutionary program.
At the heart of the program are a neighborhood infant and parent who visit the classroom every three weeks over the school year. A trained Roots of Empathy Instructor coaches students to observe the baby's development and to label the baby's feelings. In this experiential learning, the baby is the "Teacher" and a lever, which the instructor uses to help children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. This "emotional literacy" taught in the program 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 cruelties. In the Roots of Empathy program children learn how to challenge cruelty and injustice. Messages of social inclusion and activities that are consensus building contribute to a culture of caring that changes the tone of the classroom. The Instructor also visits before and after each family visit to prepare and reinforce teachings using a specialized lesson plan for each visit. Research results from national and international evaluations of Roots of Empathy indicate significant reductions in aggression and increases in pro-social behavior.
The cognitive aspect of empathy is perspective taking and the affective aspect is emotion. Roots of Empathy educates both the mind and the heart.
Empathy is a key ingredient to responsible citizenship and responsive parenting. Information on infant safety and development helps children to be more aware of issues of infant vulnerability such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Shaken Baby Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and second hand smoke. Observations of a loving parent-child relationship give children a model of responsible parenting.
The Roots of Empathy Curriculum
The curriculum is comprehensive and attuned to the development and interests of the children. The 639-page curriculum is divided into nine themes, with three classroom visits supporting each theme (a pre-family visit, family visit and post-family visit) for a total of 27 visits. Each of the nine themes is further broken down into four age ranges:
Primary (Grades 1-3)
Junior (Grades 4-6)
Senior (Grades 7-8)
The ROE curriculum addresses the affective side of education, but the activities have many links to the classroom curriculum. For example, students use math skills when they calculate and chart the baby's weight and measurements. Literature is used as a way to open the door to feelings and perspective taking. The discussion and reflection that follows builds solidarity and empathy. Art plays a large role as children paint their inner feelings which they cannot say with words. Music stirs powerful feelings. It speaks to everyone regardless of language or culture and builds solidarity.
THIS IS ROOTS OF EMPATHY
ROOTS OF EMPATHY- From the Parent's Perspective
PBS NEWS HOUR- In School, Babies Teach Older Children Empathy
Tony Smith, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent, on Roots of Empathy
Radical Empathy Now is actively seeking volunteers and supporters to help with implementing and expanding the Roots of Empathy Program. Here are some ways you can volunteer and support this valuable program.
Become a Roots of Empathy Classroom:
Are you a teacher? Are you interested in bringing this program to your classroom? If so, contact us here and we would be happy to speak with you about the opportunity to have a tiny teacher in your class.
Become a Roots of Empathy Instructor:
To deliver the Roots of Empathy program in the school system, Instructors from the community are identified and certified through a Roots of Empathy training program. These Instructors plan and deliver all aspects of the Roots of Empathy lessons in the classroom and work closely with the participating volunteer family.
Roots of Empathy Instructors come from diverse professional backgrounds. Many have backgrounds in teaching, health, early childhood education, social work, guidance counseling, speech therapy and recreation. We also have principals, retired school board superintendents, and police officers delivering the program. Having classroom experience is a major asset, as is having knowledge of infant development.
A Roots of Empathy Instructor must:
Be professional in the classroom
Be respectful of classroom teachers and all people involved, and of their roles and ways of doing things
Respect the culture and routine in the classroom and school
Be sensitive to the privacy of the home and family culture
Be non-judgmental, empathetic, and comfortable with babies and children
Recognize the potential of Roots of Empathy to empower people
In order to obtain their certification as a Roots of Empathy Instructor, all Instructors receive four days of intensive training from certified trainers and complete a written test. All Instructors have Mentors who guide and coach them in best practice strategies. Ongoing mentoring provided by Roots of Empathy ensures Instructors are qualified, confident and supported.
If you are interested in volunteering as a Roots of Empathy Instructor please let us know via our Contact Us page.
Become a Roots of Empathy Family
The heart of Roots of Empathy is the neighborhood parent and infant who join the Instructor in the classroom for Family Visits. A Roots of Empathy Instructor visits the classroom 27 times over the school year and for nine of these visits (about every three weeks) the Roots of Empathy family joins the Instructor in the classroom - each Family Visit is about 30 minutes long.
The Power of the Family
The Roots of Empathy family demonstrates the parent-child attachment and attunement relationship and the baby's development over the year. Families representing diversity by race, language, culture or religion are invited to participate, demonstrating that a loving parent-infant relationship transcends differences and that there is no one right way to be a good parent.
Principles of social inclusion are fundamental to the Roots of Empathy program:
We encourage representation of all types of families; single parents are as welcome as dual-parent families.
Fathers and/or mothers are equally welcome to participate, since we focus on the parent-child bond.
We encourage participation of parents from marginalized populations.
Roots of Empathy welcomes babies who have a physical or developmental challenge and we will provide special support to the Instructor.
The Roots of Empathy Family Experience
At the start of the year, the Roots of Empathy Instructor visits the family's home to talk about how the program works and will answer any questions. The Instructor will call before each of the 9 classroom visits to talk about the theme for the next visit and to discuss any questions the students have asked since the last Family Visit.
The Roots of Empathy classroom is a participatory democracy where all children are encouraged to contribute and ask questions and we will ask the parent(s) to share with the students how it feels to be a parent and to talk about how your baby is growing and learning.
Your baby will be loved by every student and be a star in the school and your family will be helping to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies.
Roots of Empathy babies must be between 2-4 months of age at the beginning of the program (typically September).
If you are interested in becoming a Roots of Empathy Family please let us know via our Contact Us page.
2221 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Website created by: Nathan Hoge - Dig Design Concepts - 2014
Thank you to our Sponsors & Partners!