Seeds of Empathy

Seeds of Empathy, created by Mary Gordon, is an adaptation of her Roots of Empathy  program. Seeds of Empathy is designed to foster social and emotional competence and early literacy skills for younger children, ages three to five years old. Like Roots of Empathy, Seeds of Empathy is designed to reduce physical aggression and bullying by fostering children’s empathy. The long term goal is to improve emotional health and social functioning. While Roots of Empathy is provided to kindergarten to grade 8 classrooms, Seeds of Empathy is aimed at the early childhood years to be implemented in child care facilities, nursery schools and Aboriginal Head Start programs. In both Roots and Seeds, the baby is the “teacher”. By becoming aware of the baby’s perspective and learning to label his or her feelings, children learn to understand their own feelings and to develop empathy.

For three to five year olds, the goals for Seeds of Empathy are to:

  • Foster the development of empathy;
  • Build social and emotional understanding;
  • Reduce aggression and increase pro-social behaviour; and
  • Develop positive attitudes toward competencies in early literacy.

For early childhood educators, the goals for Seeds of Empathy are to:

  • Increase their knowledge base of early childhood development and skill sets in working with three-to-five year olds, with a specific emphasis on socio-emotional development; and
  • Help them promote empathy in Early Childhood settings.
  • Promote early literacy skills.

Seeds of Empathy training, implementation and delivery commenced in Fall, 2010. SOE was officially launched in Manitoba on December 15, 2010. SOE is available in urban, rural and remote communities in Manitoba, including First Nations, child care, nursery school, Headstart and preschool programs.  Program administrators complete and submit an application in early spring, with training being provided in the summer and early fall for the SOE teams.

Over the 2013/14 year, 81 Seeds of Empathy programs will be delivered in 67 centres, of which 44 are First Nation/Aboriginal centres (65%). There are approximately 1,300 children anticipated to participate in Seeds of Empathy during the 2013/2014 school year.

Visit the Seeds of Empathy website