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What is Roots of Empathy?

Roots of Empathy is an innovative classroom parenting program which fosters development of empathy in elementary school children. This program has been introduced as a pilot program in six area schools this past fall, thanks to the efforts of many community groups/agencies and individuals.

The goals of the ROE Program are:

• To foster the development of empathy
• To help children learn to identify and label feelings and recognize the emotions of others
• To reduce levels of bullying, aggression and violence in children’s lives and build peaceful societies
• To prepare students for responsible and responsive parenting
• To increase knowledge of human development, learning and infant safety

Working in partnership with a range of stakeholders in the community, ROE builds caring and peaceful societies by reaching children in their classrooms with a fun and engaging program. Through Roots of Empathy, you and your community can help equip children with skills, information and life lessons they can apply to parenting, to the classroom, and to relationships throughout their lives.

Why do we need Roots of Empathy?

Today’s kids receive a daily exposure to violence and aggression in the news, on TV, and in video games. Society’s harsh tone needs to be actively countered in the classroom. There is an inverse relationship between empathy and aggression. As levels of empathy rise, violence and aggression decrease. When children are able to understand another’s point of view and respect their feelings, aggressive behaviour is less likely to occur. This has a direct impact on bullying and future levels of family and societal violence.

Knowledge of infant development and safety issues (Shaken Baby Syndrome, SIDS) prevents future child abuse and builds parenting capacity for the next generation. Messages of inclusion, respect and good citizenship are core values in Roots of Empathy instruction and should be core values in a civic society.

How does the program work?

The ROE program takes place in the classrooms of children ages 3 to 14. Course content and material vary depending on the grade level. Each class “adopts” a baby, who visits the classroom along with his/her parent and a trained ROE facilitator once a month for a full school year for a total of nine classroom visits. The ROE facilitator visits the class before and after each baby visit.

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