The Coronavirus abruptly and profoundly changed our way of life and now, more than ever, humans need to come together. We need to foster in our children the ability to cooperate, think critically and express empathy. With the fresh start of the school year and my renewed optimism, I thought this would be a nice time to share the collaboration Wee & Charming has with a fantastic international classroom program called Roots of Empathy.
Created in 1996, the Roots of Empathy mission is to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. The program believes that empathy is foundational to helping navigate relationships, form connections and be inclusive of others. It is designed for children ages 5 to 13 and is incorporated into their classroom learning.
At the heart of the program is a local family with a new baby who visit the classroom throughout the school year. The trained Roots of Empathy Facilitator helps guide the students to observe the baby’s development and to discuss and label the baby’s feelings. This regular interaction with the baby over the course of the year, and the specialized lesson plans from the Facilitator, help the children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. It also encourages the children to form consensus, contributing to a culture of caring in the classroom.
I was thrilled when the principal of St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic School contacted Wee & Charming to suggest using the Baby Charm Blanket as a tool for the Roots of Empathy Program. As an interactive way of recording a baby’s first year development, the Baby Charm Blanket provides a tangible object to display in the classroom and feel proud of as their Roots of Empathy baby grows and reaches new milestones.
“They love the blanket! It's the best consolidation piece because it provides milestones and experiences to look for, and we can talk about it. I think it's more useful than talking about the baby visit in some ways.”
- David Connolly, Classroom Teacher
"In the last two years I have had students in grades 1 and grade 8 participating in The Roots of Empathy Program, we have used the Wee & Charming blanket in both classrooms, it acts as a visual reminder between visits that they are following an infant's development and it is used to predict what milestones the child may meet between visits."
- Cheryle Reynolds, Principal
“At the end of the school year, the class presents the completed Baby Charm Blanket to the family as a gift and it becomes a keepsake for the baby showing his/her milestones that were discussed by the students throughout the year. There are many gifts presented to the family, including pictures, drawings and words by the class but the blanket summarizes the visits and discussions that occurred.”
- Marianne, Roots of Empathy Facilitator
It is deeply gratifying to see Wee & Charming being a part of this inspiring and community driven program, helping to build emotional literacy and regulation in our leaders of tomorrow.
To learn more about Roots of Empathy, visit https://rootsofempathy.org/
If you are interested in bringing Roots of Empathy to your school, visit https://rootsofempathy.org/school/