To teach children how to be empathetic, first it must be modeled. Children watch the adults in their lives very closely and they can easily see their emotional reactions to others. Adults must be careful to treat others with care and compassion. They should find opportunities to put other’s needs (or wants) above their own and then take the opportunity to discuss with the children the situation. Children will most certainly notice and will begin to emulate the acts of compassion and care that surround them.
Next we must let the children in our lives know that it is important to us that they be caring, compassionate and empathetic. Set a level of expectation. Express the desired behavior and expect it.
We must provide opportunities for our students to role-play. Children love to act out different scenarios. Ask two children to be the actors to a prescribed scenario. Take them aside and practice the play if possible. After the children perform the scene, ask the class (or other children) to talk about the role-playing.
Ask questions such as:
How was ___ feeling?
How did ____ act?
Why do you think ____ felt that way?
What could _____ have done differently?
How could another child have helped the situation?
Extend the role-play to include some of the suggestions if possible.
Finally, work to make these feelings of empathy second nature for the children. Children have a natural, internal sense of right and wrong and generally want to be empathetic. They must simply be led in that direction by a kind, caring, adult role-model.
Can you imagine teaching a room filled with only caring, kindness and empathy? This is what most children are yearning for, and to achieve it, we only need to lead them there.
and Kindergarten CCSS Tests, aligned to the National Common Core Standards with ESGI. Kathy has been teaching Kindergarten for 23 years, and has taught both Preschool and Reading courses at the college level. She has published 13 books on reading, writing and math, and has worked as a freelance author for two other online education publishing companies. Kathy earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education, and her M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction.
To find out more about Kathy and to see her brilliant classroom ideas, visit her website: kindergartenkiosk.blogspot.com