The heart of Roots of Empathy is the neighbourhood parent and infant who join the Instructor in the classroom for Family Visits. A Roots of Empathy Instructor visits the classroom 27 times over the school year and for nine of these visits (about every three weeks) the Roots of Empathy family joins the Instructor in the classroom - each Family Visit is about 30 minutes long.
The Power of the Family
The Roots of Empathy family demonstrates the parent-child attachment and attunement relationship and the baby's development over the year. Families representing diversity by race, language, culture or religion are invited to participate, demonstrating that a loving parent-infant relationship transcends differences and that there is no one right way to be a good parent.
Principles of social inclusion are fundamental to the Roots of Empathy program:
- We encourage representation of all types of families; single parents are as welcome as dual-parent families.
- Fathers and/or mothers are equally welcome to participate, since we focus on the parent-child bond.
- We encourage participation of parents from marginalized populations.
- Roots of Empathy welcomes babies who have a physical or developmental challenge and we will provide special support to the Instructor.
The Roots of Empathy Family Experience
At the start of the year, the Roots of Empathy Instructor visits the family's home to talk about how the program works and will answer any questions. The Instructor will call before each of the 9 classroom visits to talk about the theme for the next visit and to discuss any questions the students have asked since the last Family Visit.
The Roots of Empathy classroom is a participatory democracy where all children are encouraged to contribute and ask questions and we will ask the parent(s) to share with the students how it feels to be a parent and to talk about how your baby is growing and learning.
Your baby will be loved by every student and be a star in the school and your family will be helping to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies.
How old are Roots of Empathy babies?
A Roots of Empathy baby must be between 2 and 4 months old at the start of the program. This enables the students to observe a wide range of the infant's development over the year.
I have twins, can I still participate?
We do not use twins in the same classroom as the individual parent-infant bond is not as apparent and teaching points are not as evident with focus divided by two. If possible, we welcome parents of twins to choose one twin to participate as an ROE family and occasionally, to take on two classrooms – one for each twin.
How will I know what we are doing at each class?
The Instructor will tell you what the class will be talking about each month and will lead all of the lessons.
Do I have to answer questions or teach anything to the class?
Parents are asked to talk about the baby and answer any questions the students may have.
Are parents paid to come to the class?
No. Roots of Empathy parents are volunteers.
Can I bring my other children to the class?
It is best if only the parent(s) and baby come to the class without older children, so that the students focus on the baby. Sometimes arrangements might be made with the teacher to have the sibling accompany the family on an occasion when babysitting is unavailable.
How do I get to the class?
The family is asked to make their own plan to get to the school. In the case of very bad weather, transportation options should be discussed with the school principal.
If I can't come can I send someone else with the baby?
Only a parent can bring the baby to a classroom visit. The focus of the program is to see the bond between the parent and the baby. We need to know before you volunteer if you plan to return to work during the school year. If you do, your Instructor can give you a letter for your workplace explaining the program and asking if you can have the time off to finish the classes.
To find out if the Roots of Empathy program is available in your area and to volunteer as a Roots of Empathy family, please go to our Contact Us page.