Seeds of Empathy launches in England

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A teaching programme designed to encourage empathy in three- to- five-year-olds will be launched in Lewisham, in London in September.

The Seeds of Empathy programme will focus on increasing early literacy levels and social and emotional competence in pre-school children.

It is the sister programme to Roots of Empathy which is aimed at primary school children.

The programme is taught through a series of themes, each on a three-week cycle. The first and second weeks are taught by a literacy coach who discusses and reads books with groups of children no larger than eight.

In the third week, the children receive a 30-minute visit from a mother and a two-month-old baby. The trained family guide encourages the children to observe the baby’s development, to label the baby’s feelings and to talk about their own feelings and those of others. These cycles of teaching continue throughout the academic year.

Mary Gordon, the founder of the Seeds of Empathy programme, said, ‘We have seen clear results in the children who have been through the programme. Their overall literacy skills are higher and they have different attitudes to their peers. If the programme is successful in London, then it would be great to expand it around the UK.’

The programme has shown that children who have gone through the Seeds of Empathy teaching have higher social and emotional competence, higher readiness levels and higher literacy levels.

They have a greater interest in reading and choosing books than those who did not receive the teaching.

The programme is aimed at capitalising the relationship that young children have with their family and early years practitioners to teach them empathy and lower aggression levels.

Seeds of Empathy is due to launch in the following settings in Lewisham: Limelight Pre-school, Oakhill Community Nursery, Playhouse Community Nursery and Baring School. They are still searching for one more setting to be involved this year. 

The programme has already launched in Canada, America and Scotland and has been running since 2005.

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