EMPATHY - Comet Trait of the Month
“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.” - Alfred Adler
During the month of October, students will be learning about empathy. At Skyview, we define empathy as being able to put ourselves in someone else's shoes. We want students to feel connected to their teachers, their classmates, and all the other staff and family members who are part of our community. In order to build these respectful relationships, we need to have empathy for one another, or the ability to value, respect, and understand another person's views, even when we don't agree with them. This is not an easy skill to learn, one I am still learning to demonstrate consistently. We explicitly teach students about what empathy is and how to show it, but really empathy is best taught by modeling it. We provide safe spaces for students to share their stories with classmates who are listening to better understand them. We role play scenarios that might happen and practice how to have empathy when listening to each person's perspective of the situation and how listen for more than our own feelings. We teach students to name their feelings beyond feeling happy, sad, or angry so they can better communicate with others. We teach them to look for non-verbal cues to help them identify how others might be feeling. Our favorite way to help students understand other's point of view is through reading books. We love to have conversations about how characters are feeling or predict how they might feel when something happens to them in the story. Books are an amazing way to build empathy.
This month, the whole school will be reading Charlotte's Web by E.B. White for our One School, One Book event. This book is full of opportunities to talk with your kids about empathy, the feelings of other characters, and the different perspective characters my have on the same situation. Check out Our One School, One Book tab on our webpage to find discussion questions you can use as you are reading the book at home.
Here are some other ways you can help teach your child about empathy at home:
- Help your child identify and label their feelings and the feelings of others. Be sure to label feelings beyond happy, sad, and angry.
- Encourage your child to talk about their feelings, the feelings of others (their classmates, their teacher, their siblings, their parents), and the feelings of characters in the books you read together.
- Praise empathetic behavior.
- Teach nonverbal cues that indicate someone else's emotional status. Again this is easy to do with picture books, videos, or children's cartoons.
- Give your child a job that requires empathy like taking care of living things (their pets, plants, etc).
- Do community service with your child - donate clothing to a shelter, take cookies to a retirement home, rake an elderly neighbor's leaves, etc - and talk with your child about how helping others is a way to show empathy.
- Play board games to help them to understand how it feels to win and how it feels to lose.
- If your students play sports, talk with them after a game or event about how they felt after the outcome and also how their competitors might have felt about the same situation.
- Read books together - picture books or chapter books - and discuss how the characters feel, how their choices might affect others, and ask them to think about what the other characters might be thinking and feeling.
- Consider having non-food treats for Trick-or-Treaters to make Halloween more safe and inclusive for kids who may have allergies. Check out the Teal Pumpkin Project for more information.
We can't wait to hear about all the ways your family is showing EMPATHY for others during the month of October.