Roots of Empathy

Roots of Empathy is an evidence based classroom programme that has shown significant effect  in reducing levels of aggression and bullying among school children while raising social emotional competence and increasing empathy.

This programme is being run in our three Year Four classes (8 year old students).  The instructors are Judy Mulder and Sarah Ward.  Our philosophy is that if we teach the programme at this level, we are setting the students up to be effective role models in our senior school.

The programme has been operating at Pinehill School since 2008.

We have nine themes throughout the year.
            • Meet the Baby
            • Crying
            • Caring and Planning for baby
            • Emotions
            • Sleep 
            • Safety
            • Communicating 
            • Who Am I?
            • Farewell and Good Wishes
            • Celebration
Each theme consists of a pre-visit, a family visit and a post visit.  There are 27 lessons in total.  In the family visit our tiny teacher (our baby) and its Mum visit the classroom as honorary class members.  The family visit 10 times between February and December, for 45 minutes, every 3-4 weeks.  The students share in the milestones of the baby's development.  Through this face to face engagement they become more understanding of the needs of others.  This culminates with a celebration for the last visit in which the family is presented with a photo album.  The lesson is centred around the green blanket.  Through toys, music and observation the children celebrate the milestones of the baby.  

The goals of the programme are :
  • To foster the development of Empathy (to put yourself in someone else's shoes)
  • To develop emotional literacy
  • To reduce the levels of bullying, aggression and violence
  • To foster pro-social behaviours
  • To increase knowledge of human development, learning and infant safety
  • To prepare students for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting.



                                                To view the Roots of Empathy website for more information click here .


Here are some examples of writing from students in our Roots of Empathy Programme, which all our students in Year Four take part in.  

Adam Wang – Room 1
Baby Visit 6 – 29/07/2016
We met baby Skylah today. This is the first week of the term. When I saw baby Skylah, I noticed she has a cold because her nose is red.  Her hair has got much longer.
I was surprised because she can sit up without falling now and the thing that was unbelievable is she can crawl a little, that is a very big milestone. She can put her hand into the bowl and pull the fish back out.
For baby Skylah’s safety, mummy Bel uses a safety gate for lots of places that are dangerous.  She might choke on a piece of lego because she has an older sibling.
She can crawl faster, sit up straighter than last time and grow more hair next time we see her.

Anthony Wong – Room 1 
Baby Visit 7 – Communication 
When I first saw baby Skylah come through the door I thought ‘wow’, she had lots of teeth growing and also she reached so many milestones today.  She can crawl, she’s growing teeth, and she can hold two transparent balls and clap them together.  Then Mrs Mulder threw one of the transparent balls to the other side of the mat.  Baby Skylah didn’t go to them, but when mummy Bel went to where the balls were, then baby Skylah went to the transparent balls.  After that we sang some nursery rhymes.  We sang these ones – Humpty Dumpty, Hickery Dickery Dock and Incy Wincy Spider.  She was shy and when she was, we sang her a song, then she calmed down.  Next she will grow more teeth.

Hedi Foldi – Room 5
Who am I – Baby Visit 8
Today we had a baby visit. Victoria could crawl all the way to the end of the blanket and back!  Today she was making a lot of noises and made a big smile!  First of all she came in and played with one of the toys that had a mirror, hanger, chewing part and some patterns on either side. We also fed her and learnt what Victoria really liked.

Lucy Ranger – Room 5
Today we had our eighth baby visit.  We all noticed that baby Victoria has grown SO MUCH HAIR.  She was just playing with a toy when mummy Kesinya put the lanyard on the floor and baby Victoria started to CRAWL to it!  When Mrs Mulder put the ball under the blanket and she found it again.  Last time Mrs Mulder did that she couldn’t find it.  She has learnt that if something goes out of her sight it has not disappeared.  She crawled over to the other side of the blanket after the ball and she started playing with Olive’s skirt!  We watched her eat so much banana, cucumber, a snax cracker, a piece of tomato and some capsicum.  She had never had tomato before.  She was clapping two balls together and we all gave her a clap.  Her hands are soooo soft.  We sang ‘If you are happy and you know it’ to her.


Roots of Empathy Roll of Honour


Baby Matvey and Kseniya Meshkova             (Room 9 William Albertsma)          Instructor: Sarah Ward

Baby Cohen and Victoria Everett                   (Room 10 Chloe Barrett)                 Instructor: Judy Mulder

Baby Blake and Rachel Beedell                    (Room 11 Nicole Hillier)                  Instructor: Judy Mulder                  



Baby Jaelen and Jamaine Grant                   (Room 10 Natalie McAllum)            Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Sam and Ashley Shearer                      (Room 14 William Albertsma)        Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Eli and Sarah Diekema                         (Room 9 Emma Lyon)                      Instructor Sarah Ward Y4



Baby Finn and Victoria Everett                      (Room 11 Ashleigh Maaka)             Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Juliet and Lindsay Newman                 (Room 14 William Albertsma)        Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Ryella and Pamela Enstrom                 (Room 9 Emma Lyon)                     Instructor Sarah Ward  Y4


Baby Victoria and Kseniya  Meshkova           (Room 6  Ashleigh Maaka)              Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Skylah and Bel Sweetman                    (Room 21 Maraea Rameka)            Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Hamish and Briar Richardson               (Room 19 Yvonne Hook)                 Instructor Sarah Ward Y4


Baby Alice and Kate Webber                         (Room 19 Yvonne Hook)                 Instructor Sarah Ward Y4

Baby Danielle and Andrea/Richard Stanaway    (Room 21 Maraea Rameka)      Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Joseph and Laetitia Belando                (Room 14 Karen Seth)                    Instructor Judy Mulder Y4


Baby Olivia and Rachael McKewen               (Room 19 Yvonne Hook)                 Instructor Sarah Ward Y4

Baby Hugo and Louise Manson                     (Room 23 Kathy Penberthy)            Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Lusia  and Christina Kelemete              (Room 16 Maraea Rameka)            Instructor Judy Mulder Y4


Baby Phoebe and Jo  Coughlan                     (Room 23 Kathy Penberthy)           Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Zoe and Natalie Wilson                        (Room 16 Maraea Rameka)           Instructor Judy Mulder  Y4

Baby Kelsey and Tamsyn Angell                    (Room 6 Yvonne Hook)                  Instructor Sarah Ward  Y4


Baby Toby and Amy Brown                            (Room 18 Holly Moore)                 Instructor Sarah Ward Y4

Baby Adam and Candice Dollie                     (Room 23 Kathy Penberthy)          Instructor Judy Mulder Y4

Baby Aaliyah and Vanessa Mulholland        (Room 16 Maraea Rameka)           Instructor Judy Mulder Y4


Baby Zachary and Amanda Murray              (Room 13 Kathy Penberthy)           Instructor Judy Mulder  Y4      

Baby Macsen and  Tania Steen                     (Room 16 Maraea Rameka)           Instructor Dianne Walker Y4

Baby Kowhai and Tracey Witana                  (Room 18 Holly Moore)                  Instructor Sarah Ward Y4


Baby Indy and Dionne Webster                     (Room 13 Kathy Penberthy)           Instructor Sarah Ward, Y4


Baby Maia and Maraea Rameka                   (Room 16 Jo Hanley)                     Instructor Sarah Ward, Y4


Baby Bryn and Georgie Hammond                 (Room 17 Maraea Rameka)         Instructor Dianne Walker, Y5/6


2016 Roots of Empathy

Pinehill Roots of Empathy families, students and teachers celebrated their year with Auckland RoE babies this week. We were privileged to have the founder of the programme, Mary Gordon from Canada join us. Jacinda Ardern, Labour MP and children’s advocate also spoke about the importance of what the students have been learning. Thanks to all the families who have participated in the programme and the babies who have taught us so much. The RoE charitable trust is continuing to search for funding to allow the programme to grow in NZ.

If you are interested in being a Roots of Empathy family please contact: