Babies in class in bid to stop school bullies

A mother and baby in the classroom.
A mother and baby in the classroom.

A leading charity is calling for babies from South Ayrshire to help primary school pupils understand their feelings and the feelings of others.

Action for Children Scotland is introducing internationally-acclaimed anti-bullying initiative Roots of Empathy to South Ayrshire schools for the first time – and it needs local babies and their parents to take part.

Roots of Empathy encourages schoolchildren to interact in a nurturing manner by taking a baby – known as a ‘Tiny Teacher’ - into the classroom throughout the school year.

During classroom visits a specially-trained instructor guides children to observe, consider and comment on how the baby is feeling using toys, song, reading, artwork and discussion.

This helps pupils to describe and understand their own feelings and those of others, raising levels of empathy amongst classmates and encouraging more respectful relationships.

Janine Ryan, Children Services Manager at Action for Children Scotland, explains: “We first brought Roots of Empathy to Scotland in 2010 when it was piloted in schools in North Lanarkshire. Since then we have found the programme to be very effective, with recent research revealing that 55.5 per cent of pupils display an increase in helping, sharing, co-operating, and volunteering after receiving the classes.

“We are very pleased to introduce Roots of Empathy to South Ayrshire and hope that local babies – and their parents – will lend us a helping hand. This is a great opportunity to learn about your baby’s development and celebrate all their tiny milestones, whilst making a real and lasting impact on children in your local community.

“If your baby was born in June, July or August this year please do get in touch – your little bundle of joy could be our next Tiny Teacher.”

Action for Children Scotland hopes parents and babies from the local community will volunteer with Roots of Empathy.

Parents who have been involved in the programme enjoy having dedicated time to learn about their baby’s development, stating that they feel more confident in their parenting skills as a result.

Roots of Empathy was developed by internationally-recognised social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert, Mary Gordon, in 1996.

Over 450,000 children have taken part in the programme worldwide.

The programme was piloted in North Lanarkshire by Action for Children Scotland in 2010 - the first time it was delivered anywhere in Britain.