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Babies get teaching jobs in Cardiff schools

21/05/2012 Joanna
A new programme run by the charity Action for Children in Wales has found babies taking on unique new teaching jobs in Cardiff schools.

The so-called 'tiny teachers' are working in the Welsh capital's classrooms as part of the charity's programme which is designed to cut the amount of bullying and aggression among school children.

As part of the Roots of Empathy project, parents are bringing their babies into class with the aim of teaching children about empathy.

By encouraging them to identify with the babies' feelings through interaction and nurturing while also observing a loving parent caring for their child it is hoped that children will be taught to better understand their own and others' emotions.

The project has the endorsement of the Dalai Lama and follows a study in Canada where a similar project was found to increase 'peer acceptance' in 74 per cent of the children that participated. It also cut social aggression in around four out of children.

Explaining the concept, the charity's operational director Brigitte Gater said: "Roots of Empathy teaches school children to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others by using a baby as the 'tiny teacher'."

"This raises levels of empathy amongst classmates, resulting in more respectful relationships and a dramatic reduction in levels of aggression among school children."

Primary school teachers in Cardiff are not the first in the UK to see the project in their classrooms however, with the project successfully piloted in Scotland last year.

But, after The Big Lottery Fund's Realising Ambition programme found the investment to bring the project to life, it is now coming to Wales.

Around 2,000 children will experience the programme in the next three years, with Roots of Empathy already recruiting the volunteers.

Each tiny teacher will be part of nine separate visits spread over a year, with trained staff from Action for Children leading the lessons.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801367729-ADNFCR
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