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Roots of Empathy was started in Canada by Mary Gordon, in 2007,the programme expanded internationally and is currently being used with great success in 11 countries worldwide, and started in St Coen`s in September 2018.

Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based programme, delivered in primary school classrooms, which has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children by raising social-emotional competence and increasing empathy.

At the heart of the programme is a baby and parent who visit the classroom every three weeks during the school year. A trained Roots of Empathy Instructor, coaches the children to observe the baby's development and to label the baby's feelings. The baby is the ‘teacher’ in this experiential learning, while the Instructor helps the children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.

The Roots of Empathy Instructor also visits before and after each family visit to prepare and reinforce teachings, using a specialised lesson plan for each visit.

Research results from National and International evaluations of Roots of Empathy indicate significant reductions in aggression and increases in prosocial behaviours.

The Curriculum

Roots of Empathy primarily addresses the affective (feelings and emotions) side of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum. However, it is cross-curricular as it features strong links to maths, music, art, language and literature, and Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE).

Barnardos was chosen as the lead agency to manage the delivery of the Roots of Empathy in the Republic of Ireland.

The Roots of Empathy programme is currently being used in 4th class this year with our instructor Rosemary Crosse.