What is Roots of Empathy?
Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program which has shown dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression and violence among elementary school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy.
Our mission is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.
History and Reach
In 1996, Roots of Empathy was created in Toronto schools by Mary Gordon. It became a charitable not-for-profit organization in 2000.
Since its inception, Roots of Empathy has reached more than 150,000 children in more than 6,000 classrooms.
The program reaches elementary school children from Kindergarten to Grade 8 across Canada, in English and French, in rural, urban, remote, and Aboriginal communities both on and off reserve. It is being piloted internationally in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
Roots of Empathy in Action
A trained Roots of Empathy instructor visits the classroom every week during the school year, starting in October and ending in June for a total of 27 lessons. Once every three weeks, a parent and baby (2 to 4 months at the start) from the community come to the classroom with the instructor for a family visit. Experiential learning at its best!
The program teaches children about feelings, their own feelings and the feelings of others. In Roots of Empathy, the baby is the teacher. With each family visit (nine in all), the instructor leads the children in noticing how the baby is growing and changing over the course of his or her first year of life. The children also watch the loving relationship between the parent and baby and see how the parent regulates the baby’s emotions. By understanding the perspective of the baby and learning to label the baby’s feelings, the students become literate in describing their own feelings and understanding those of others – empathy.
For more information please visit the Roots of Empathy website.