How do we go about making sure that our kids learn empathy in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic in school? Sadly, if you talk to today’s teachers, it often gets lost in the shuffle of getting the “real” instruction done. Teachers have so much time to get the nitty-gritty done the time for learning the soft skills fall by the wayside.
Yet empathy, the ability to walk in someone else’s place and truly feel what they experience, gives children a way to understand the world differently. That’s where RedRover comes in. This organization has invested in building a program that teaches empathy to third and fourth graders.
Empathy Goes to The Dogs… and Cats
Let’s suppose we’re part of a class. The teacher tells us that we are trying The RedRover Reading Program today. Everybody becomes involved and you find out that our best friend has an amazing human-animal bond. He never told anyone about his relationship with his pet before because… who talks about feelings? You also discovered that the girl who lives down the street throws sticks at dogs. She never thought about it before, but now as you describe your own experience with Heidi, your pet Doberman, she starts to see that maybe the dog has feelings after all.
As the children get involved, critical questions cause them to look more deeply into their own lives. They draw on their own emotions and personal experiences to bring life to the story. They see that how they treat animals has an impact on others… and the learning environment become rich. This unique discussion about feelings and their pets sets the stage for change.
That’s when the magic happens. Why would our youth talk about anything so personal? They wouldn’t unless being prompted by a teacher or parent. Kids talking about their cats, dogs, or other animals (and how they make them feel) just doesn’t come up in normal conversation. But everyone has a perspective on animals. Having a conversation about animal behavior and emotions lets children practice some self-awareness and emotional recognition. Kids and teachers love it.
An e-Book Today… that Supports Tomorrow
The folks at RedRover have found that teachers are the best resource for the RedRover Readers Technique. About 750 teachers have taken classes online or in person.
RedRover has also taken extra steps to reach out to the community and created a mini version of the RedRover Reading Program. An e-Book called The Restricted Adventures of Raja is available through both the Android and iTunes stores. RedRover has slated the second e-Book to come out by the end of the year. Both are available in English and Spanish.
Through the e-Book, parents can get involved in the story. Or, the graphic novel offers kids a great device for learning and experience it on their own. Critical questions stop kids to make them think, “What would I do in this situation?”
The analysis provides a key element for third and fourth graders. Their brains have developed enough so that cognitive thinking skills can understand, and show, empathy. This helps us build a better tomorrow.
And, building a better tomorrow is what RedRover’s all about. Think what it would be like to prevent abuse, neglect, and cruelty to animals. If our children can put themselves in the other person’s shoes for a split second, then they are really unlikely to do something physically wrong toward that person.