A leading charity is calling for babies from the Western Isles to help primary school pupils understand their feelings and the feelings of others.
Action for Children Scotland wants local parents and their babies to volunteer with Roots of Empathy, an internationally-acclaimed programme which encourages children to interact in a nurturing manner by taking a baby – known as a ‘Tiny Teacher’ - into the classroom throughout the school year.
During classroom visits, the Roots of Empathy instructor guides children to observe, consider and comment on how the baby is feeling using toys, song, reading, artwork and discussion. This helps pupils to describe and understand their own feelings and those of others, raising levels of empathy amongst classmates and encouraging more respectful relationships.
Janine Ryan, Children Services Manager at Action for Children Scotland, explains: “Roots of Empathy is a very effective programme - recent research revealed that 55.5 per cent of pupils display an increase in helping, sharing, co-operating, and volunteering after receiving the classes.
“Now we need local babies to lend us a helping hand and help make Roots of Empathy a real success in the Western Isles. This is a great opportunity to learn about your baby’s development and celebrate all their tiny milestones, whilst making a real and lasting impact on children in your local community.
“If your baby was born in June, July or August this year please do get in touch – your little bundle of joy could be our next Tiny Teacher.”
Action for Children Scotland hopes parents and babies from the local community will volunteer with Roots of Empathy. Parents who have been involved in the programme enjoy having dedicated time to learn about their baby’s development, stating that they feel more confident in their parenting skills as a result.
Hannah Stewart took part in last year’s Roots of Empathy programme with Tiny Teacher Matthew. She said: “It was really touching to see the hopes and wishes pupils had for Matthew’s future. We have both loved the experience - Matthew enjoyed being star of the show and I was pleased to have the opportunity to celebrate all of his little milestones with the class. It has been a very rewarding experience that I would strongly recommend to any new mums!”
Roots of Empathy was developed by internationally-recognised social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert, Mary Gordon, in 1996. Over 450,000 children have taken part in the programme worldwide. The programme was piloted in North Lanarkshire by Action for Children Scotland in 2010 - the first time it was delivered anywhere in Britain.
Tiny Teachers need to be between 2-4 months at the start of the programme, meaning they will have been born in June, July or August. If you think your newborn has what it takes to be a Tiny Teacher, please contact Susan Robison or Paul Carroll on 0141 552 2278 or by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org