Primary school children in Northampton will be given the chance to spend time with mothers and their newborn babies as part of a programme to teach emotional awareness.
From November, pupils at Upton Meadows, Boothville Primary Schools and Castle Academy will have lessons with a baby, their parent, and a Roots of Empathy Instructor.
The Roots of Empathy programme, supported by and in partnership with the University of Northampton, Northamptonshire Education Psychology Services, the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and local charity KidsAid, will see small babies and their parents visit the primary schools to help develop empathy skills in children.
The school children will see the baby’s development, the parent-child relationship, and learn to understand the baby’s emotions and how the baby communicates at regular points throughout the school year and the first year of the baby’s life.
The pupils will be encouraged to identify not only the way the baby develops, but their own feelings, and how their behaviour can impact the feelings of others.
Katie Cohen, from Roots of Empathy said: “The Roots of Empathy programme is an evidence driven programme that has shown significant effect in raising caring behaviours and decreasing aggression in primary age children. We’re delighted with the local support for the programme and that we can get going in Northampton this year.”
Clare Aucott, the mother of Baby Leo who will be visiting schools said: “I am really keen to be involved in the Roots of Empathy programme as I think it is so important for schools to help children develop their emotional literacy. Using a baby as the teacher seems like such an exciting and innovative way to help children learn about feelings and increase their empathy. I’m really pleased that Leo and I can be a part of that.”
Two University of Northampton students, Batista Atambo and Ridwana Begum, have secured internships with KidsAid to work on the project. Over the next year, the students will work with Roots of Empathy to get the project up and running. The internships are being funded by the Santander Universities Mobility fund.
Dr Eunice Lumsden, Head of Early Years at the University of Northampton said: “The Roots of Empathy project is a very exciting one. The first year of a child’s life sees them develop at a staggering pace. Through the baby’s development, the children learn to identify and reflect on their own feelings as well as the feelings of others. This in turn helps pupils to become more socially and emotionally aware.
“This activity directly links to our own Changemaker + Challenges which aim to make Northamptonshire the best county in the UK for children to flourish and learn, and become the leading county in the UK for Health and Wellbeing.”