Roots of Empathy (for kindergartners) and Seeds of Empathy (for pre-K children) are programs that foster social emotional competence and early literacy skills. The mission is to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.
Literacy Circles: Week 1 and 2
During the first two weeks of the three-week cycle, children gather around a blanket and hear a story connected to the current theme. The literacy teachers follow a curriculum that supports interactive learning (i.e., music and movement, art, drama and discussions) based on children’s literature.
Family Visit: Week 3
During the third week, the family guide delivers the family visit, where a baby (2-4 months old) and his or her parent visit the classroom. The children and teachers who work with them gather around a large blanket and together observe the baby. The family guide coaches the children to observe the developmental milestones and read the baby’s cues. which tell them how the baby is feeling. During the course of the program the children come to understand and respect the baby as an individual. This leads the children to better understand their own uniqueness and feelings and the feelings of others. These three-week cycles repeat monthly throughout the school year.
• To foster the development of empathy and emotional literacy.
• To build social and emotional understanding.
• To reduce aggression and increase pro-social behavior.
• To develop positive attitudes towards and competencies in early literacy.
Colors of Empathy
In fall 2008, a group of our ECS faculty members expanded the Roots/ Seeds of Empathy exploration of emotion by creating what we call “Colors of Empathy”. The year-long project allowed children to create compositions and visits to a classroom that was immersed in a single color. Each month a new color was presented. The teachers of the project continuously observed the children’s growth and emotional development in a few key areas.
The children gained competency in the ability to become more able to recognize the emotions of others and of themselves and seemed to be more reflective in social situations.
The children gained fluency and became more articulate when talking about their own feelings. Teachers saw the children able to work through challenging moments independently by conveying their feelings.
The children’s artistic fluency has expanded as they have explored emotion in a tactile way through the composition work involved in the project. Artistic media gives another voice to children’s thoughts and emotions about their world.
Watch our Colors of Empathy color project in a KING-TV spotlight >>