Saturday, April 22, 2017

Teaching Empathy to Young Students

For the past few years, I have been cultivating resources to consciously teach empathy to my Kinder students. I feel like it's something that is often missing in our society today. We are spending our time taking selfies and brutalizing others in comments on social media. I want to make sure my students develop an ability to put themselves in others' shoes and think about how things will make people feel.

I do this in several different ways. I model with stories and often talk about how characters in the story feel. (These are just a few examples-there are tons of choices out there).

The first day of school from the school's point of view. It overhears students saying how much they hate school and it hurts the school's feelings.

                                         Mr. Hatch receives a box of candies and a note saying someone loves him that makes him very happy. However, he discovers it was meant for someone else.

Even though Bear does not like visitors and just wants to be alone, Mouse shows that he cares about him.

A beautiful story about a bus ride into the city and all the different kinds of people they meet along the way.

A little girl and her friends shun a new student because her clothes are hand-me downs and she's different from them. When the little girl ends up moving away the main character regrets the way she treated what could have been a potential friend.

The different colors have different personalities and have to band together stand up to a bully. It's ripe for discussion of how the colors are feeling.

I use videos like this one.

And I think all those discussions are working. We were at the science museum yesterday on a field trip and the students kept remarking that they felt sorry for the dinosaurs, that they were extinct now. They felt sorry for the trees in the rainforest. They will often come tell me when they think one of their classmates feels down or that they may need help with something. I love seeing them thinking about others and that our focus seems to be paying off!

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