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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” which the instructor leverages 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.

For more information please contact the Roots of Empathy Coordinator, Courtney Custer at (505) 301 3036 or ccuster.swfgc@gmail.com.