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.

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: