The Seeds of Empathy program has had an incredibly positive impact on both the children and the staff of our Centre. The children are much kinder in their play and social interactions. I hear them using more feeling words to describe how they are feeling rather than resorting to physical violence. I also notice a greater sense of inclusion in the children’s social interactions as they are more aware of the differences of those around them and now embrace those differences. As a staff member, I have become much more empathetic to the needs of the children in my room; there are a whole range of emotions in such little bodies and I am grateful to be able to help the children explore and understand these emotions better. I have a much better relationship with the children in my room.
Seeds of Empathy is designed to promote empathy and understanding of feelings in children. Children become frustrated when they are unable to express themselves and the Seeds of Empathy program gives them the language and understanding to deal with such big emotions.”
– Seeds of Empathy Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Seeds of Empathy relies on a team of staff to deliver the program in an Early Childhood setting.
SEEDS OF EMPATHY FAMILY
The chief criterion that identifies a Seeds of Empathy Family is that they have a baby who will be two-to-four months old at the beginning of the program. Families commit to visiting the Centre once every three weeks during the program year. They should be reliable, so they don't let the children down.
We seek families who live in the community, so that they reflect the cultural, racial and linguistic tone of the neighbourhood. This helps create a bond between the children in the Centre and the Seeds of Empathy Family, which is reinforced when the children see the parent(s) and baby in the street and rush over to ask how 'their baby' is doing.
It's important that the adult in the Seeds of Empathy Family be a parent. Mothers and/or fathers are equally welcome to participate, since we focus on the secure attachment relationship of the baby to the parent. Around the lavender blanket the children are able to watch a loving relationship between the parent and the baby, where the parent is attuned to the baby's feelings, needs and intentions. Other adults (caregivers, grandparents, elders etc.) may not substitute for the parent but are welcome to observe a Family Visit.
Seeds of Empathy trains at least two staff who work with three-to-five-year-olds to become Literacy Coaches. Literacy Coaches read to the children during Literacy Circles and attend Family Visits. Literacy Coaches in Seeds of Empathy are powerful models of literacy for the children, and help them develop positive attitudes toward and competencies in early literacy. This role is supported by a Curriculum Manual with selected children’s literature, and lesson plans for each Literacy Circle.
The Family Guide coaches the children to observe, comment on, and draw conclusions about the baby's development during a Family Visit. The Family Guide also gives the children a vocabulary for labelling the baby's feelings. This vocabulary helps them to understand and talk about their own feelings and the feelings of others, thus giving pre-schoolers a basis for developing a "literacy of feelings". This role is supported by a Curriculum Manual with lesson plans for each Family Visit.
The Administrator is the liaison between the Seeds of Empathy Program Manager and the Centre. She or he is responsible for ensuring that the schedule of Literacy Circles and Family Visits is maintained and that the Literacy Coaches and Family Guides fulfil their roles. The Administrator attends the Family Visits and participates as a Literacy Coach when possible.
Centres are able to have an impact on young children and their parents by implementing the Seeds of Empathy program. The early literacy program as well as the family visits make some big concepts understandable for young children and make it possible for empathy to bloom.”
– Seeds of Empathy Centre, Vancouver, Washington, United States