Tipperary babies' visits to classrooms raises empathy among pupils

Barnardos programmes ran in schools across Tipperary

Barnardos empathy programme in Tipperary

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay presenting a gift to Joey and his mother Michelle Devaney who both participated in the Roots of Empathy Programme in Our Lady of Mercy School, Cahir.

A tiny infant became the 'teacher' at a number of schools in Tipperary recently.

It was part of the Roots of Empathy (ROE) programme run by children's charity Barnardos to introduce observing a child's development into the school curriculum.

The babies and their parents were later presented with certificates to mark their contribution to the progamme.

Ss. Peter and Paul’s National School in Clonmel was one of the schools involved and families and parents gathered to see the baby in their family receive their certificates as the youngest volunteers in Ireland at a special ceremony.

They had been participating in a programme which has been delivered to schools in Cahir, Cashel, Clonmel, Fethard, Newcastle and Thurles.

Barnardos chose to bring Roots of Empathy to Ireland because it is a proven universal programme that is delivered at an early stage in a child’s development and builds empathy in them at a young age, delivering long term benefits to both children and society.

It has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children by raising social/emotional competency and increasing empathy.

At the heart of the programme is a neighbourhood infant and parent who visit the classroom nine times over the school year.

A trained instructor coaches students to observe the baby’s development and to label the baby’s feelings.

In this experiential learning, the baby is the 'teacher' which the instructor uses to help children to identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.

This 'emotional literacy' taught in the programme lays the foundation for more safe and caring classrooms.

Children become more competent in understanding their own feelings and the feelings of others - ie empathy.

Special thanks to Ss. Peter and Paul’s school for hosting this event and to the pupils who provided musical entertainment for the afternoon.

If you had a baby in July or August 2017 and would be interested in participating in the programme or you are a school principal who would be interested in the programme being delivered in your school, please contact the project in Clonmel on 052-6170665 or email at info@clonmel.barnardos.ie or nationally at info.roe@barnardos.ie

Barnardos supports children whose well-being is under threat, by working with them, their families and communities and by campaigning for the rights of children.

Barnardos was established in Ireland in 1962 and is Ireland's leading independent children's charity.