Monday, June 13, 2016

Teaching Empathy to Our Young Students

Living in the 21st Century gives our kids a lot of benefits. They have access to the world through the internet. They can communicate with others in ways we didn't even dream of when I was growing up. However, the trade off to that is that they seem to care less about the feelings of others. Using so much technology, I believe, is desensitizing them in actual social situations and the feelings that come with it. Even as adults, reading comments people make on articles just make me cringe-how do you think they will feel reading that?

Watching the news today and the tragedy in Orlando, I just can't fathom what goes through someone's mind that they can not only hurt people, but to put all those families through that grief as well. It hasn't always been this way. I think if you told people 50 years ago that this would be our reality-that a mass shooting would just be a blip on the news, In 2016 alone we have had 76! I don't think the people would have believed it. So much has changed and there's not a lot we have control over-but we do have control over what we model and teach our kiddos.

So one of the skills I try to impart on my students is empathy. I teach the word and meaning. I use this video to explain it-I am a fan of Mark Ruffalo but love him even more for doing this:

There is nothing like reading a story and having a student say Ï have empathy for Winnie-the-Pooh, he keeps getting stuck everywhere". They can understand what it means. 

We also watch a lot of videos. This is a great resource-Terri is awesome at finding videos to share with the kids:

I also use photographs-what are these people feeling at this moment? The kids go-to words are happy or sad and I try to expand on that. I try to give them more vocabulary-frustrated, anxious, disappointed, joyful, grateful.

A great resource for pics from around the world is:

This is not a site I would let students view themselves, I put the pics in slideshows for them. Here are a few examples:

I like to use animals as well-they have feelings too.

This elephant is not hurt-it's part of an education program-the students are blind.

In my next post I'll post some books I suggest to teach empathy as well.

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  1. You're great! Your ideas are inspiring.

    1. Awww, thank you so much! I really appreciate you saying that.

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