Inspirations - Baby Power
by Life Positive
On this day, as she makes her way into Denyse Stewart’s third-grade classroom in Toronto, the students beam with excitement.
“Hello, baby Indigo, how are you? How are you? How are you?”
For the next 30 minutes, Indigo is the teacher, helping these students learn about emotion and how to read another person’s feelings – namely, her own.
The baby’s visit is the heart of a programme called Roots of Empathy – a course that is proving to be an effective tool in reducing aggression in school children.
“The real importance of understanding how you feel and others feel really helps children navigate every social relationship in their lives, ” said Mary Gordon, founder of Roots of Empathy.
Indigo and her parents will make nine visits over the course of the year. A facilitator will visit a total of 27 times to reinforce the lessons, in which understanding and spotting feelings are key.
“Now what is she telling us right now?” the facilitator asked as Indigo starts to cry.
“She doesn’t like being on her back,” the students replied.
Gordon said she knew bringing a baby and parent into the classroom would strike a chord with kids.
“There’s something so engaging in watching the love between a parent and a baby, and since that relationship of attachment and attunement is how we develop our empathy, I thought, well, why not bring the tiny teachers in?” Gordon said. Stewart, the third-graders’ teacher, said she’s witnessed a difference in how her students relate to one another.
“It’s a place for them to practice being open,” Stewart said, “so when they move outside of the classroom, they know what it feels like to be open, what it feels like to empathise.”
According to its website, the Roots of Empathy programme has reached more than 325,000 children worldwide.
And the students in Stewart’s class appeared to have grown attached to their infant teacher.
“Goodbye, baby Indigo,” they said. “See you soon, see you very soon.”
– CNN, Toronto
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