Thursday, December 07, 2006

Roots of Empathy

I write today of something I would recommend to any parent of a small child. The Roots of Empathy Program. As write it occurs to me I will have to state that if you are a parent of two children and you have a chance to do it with your second, do not miss the chance.

First -- what is Roots? Roots of Empathy is a program that puts babies as teachers into elementary classrooms. In our case my son and I have been adopted for monthly visits by 28 fourth graders. The tagline for Roots is 'changing the world one child at a time.' I'm a believer.

As a school board employee and librarian I was well aware of the ROE program prior to signing up my family. I regret Miss Fancy was not quite the right age to do it but feel lucky to do it now. My son is a great ROE baby as he was three months old when we started in October. Just beyond amoeba-like is what they want to start. The idea is that over a year's visits little guys in classrooms see even littler guys grow in a very tangible way.

I think our class is particularly perfect because the idea of them being little guys in a really big system -- their school, the community, the country -- is starting to cement itself. Seems fair, and fruitful, for them to have one last kick at the can of being the big guys before the grade 6/7s are kickin' their butts next year. Seriously, ROE has shown huge improvements in school behavior, discipline and compassion. God bless Mary Gordon for figuring out that empathy is what we need for a peaceful society.

And, what about my opinion --- it is a great plus for a #2 baby? Well, my toddler at least has a really overpowering personality over my infant. Roots means that once a month I must show up and face a class that only recognizes me as Baby #2's mommy. I have to answer questions about him. He is the centre of attention for a change. Last visit they all sang for him and he laughed his ass off. I, meanwhile, choked back sentimental tears, My little one and those kids have an real mutual admiration thing going on. In coming months I will try to tell you all more about our visits. I am amazed how much comes out of a very simple program. If you are a parent of school age children ask the principal if your school will ever seek the Roots of Empathy.

And by the way this is what my boy looks like laughing his ass off.

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Blogger The Teacher said...

I love the Roots of Empathy program. I want to get certified in it for when I have my own classroom, and I'd love to participate in it with my future children.

Incidentally, your little boy? Meltingly adorable.

8:28 p.m.  
Blogger Granny said...

What a wonderful program.

I'd love to see it here.

Your little guy is a sweetie.

10:42 p.m.  
Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

Our local school does it too.
They also have a buddy system in which an older kid 'adopts' a kindergartner to introduce them to the perils of big school.

This has been a huge success and bred a bunch of very kind and patient older kids who are glad to speak and play with the younger children.

10:06 a.m.  
Blogger Mad Hatter said...

Oh that laugh. That laugh.

10:44 a.m.  
Anonymous Meg said...

I love it. Thank you for being a part of it.

3:35 p.m.  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

This is a phenomenal program ... a friend of mine does it with her newborn in TO. Thanks for writing about it.

I plan to do the same at MBToronto in January ... is it okay if I link to your post? You've said it much better than I could

3:14 a.m.  
Blogger kittenpie said...

This sounds really interesting. Must remember to spread the news. sporry have not been commenting so much lately - I'm sprinting!

6:41 p.m.  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

What a wonderful program.

And, am gasping with giggles at the adorableness of that child. Too much.

8:24 a.m.  
Blogger smashedpea said...

I did it, I did it!

With my one and only - and she and I both loved it. So did our little grade 3/4 kids. Constantly asking "When can we touch her?" and reminding each other not to shout so as not to scare her.

My favourite moment was when one of the little boys, a total Pig-Pen look-alike (and I mean this in the best possible sense), came up to us after a lesson to ask me very intently and very seriously whether I was going to let him teach her how to play hockey when she was older :)

Do you know if you can bring the older sibling with you to the programme? I'd totally sign up #2, due next June, if they allow that.

11:39 a.m.  

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