How to Build Empathy in Schools
School is a critical environment for children to interact with others and develop social skills. So much learning, experience, and development happens during school time, especially at young ages. It’s crucial to create a classroom that teaches and values empathy so kids can learn healthy behaviors and build healthy relationships in their lives—now and in the future.
Keep reading our blog to learn more about empathy in schools.
What is Empathy?
To be empathetic, or to have empathy, means trying to understand someone else’s experience and to connect with the emotions they are feeling. The foundation of an empathic response is the ability to step into the shoes of another person and to understand their feelings and perspectives. Empathy is most often associated with responding to others who are struggling with feelings of fear, isolation, anger, and loneliness. But empathy can equally apply to responding to positive feelings people experience like joy, satisfaction, and success.
Why is Empathy in Schools Important?
Beyond the benefits empathy has outside of school, like building healthy relationships, empathy is extremely important in classroom settings. It can:
- Create a sense of community within the classroom: Empathy helps children to connect with others, which can lead to creating a sense of community and a safe space within a classroom.
- Promote considering others and selfless action: Empathy promotes understanding and therefore consideration of others. Children should be taught at a young age to think about and value others.
- Help children build resilience: Teaching empathy strengthens self-esteem, enabling students to move through failure and setbacks more quickly. This helps build resilience to overcome adversity.
- Positively impact student achievement: Encouraging empathy in the classroom hones critical thinking skills, giving students a higher capacity for learning and more confidence in their academic skills.
How to Build Empathy in Your Classroom
Building empathy in the classroom starts with educators. Teachers and staff can model empathy in their classrooms through their interactions with students. For example, teachers who get to know their students as individuals and learn about their lives and experiences can become powerful models of empathy.
Giving students class time to think about and reflect on their personal experiences and feelings is also important. This helps develop the self-awareness that leads to empathy. When classrooms are a safe space for self-expression, students learn active listening and good communication skills.
Lesson plans that expose students to diverse stories and perspectives through storytelling, field trips, and other activities help build empathy. This effective learning model starts inside the classroom and transfers to outside the walls of the school.
Bring Good Grief Schools to Your Community
To build empathy in your classroom, bring Good Grief Schools to your school district. Often, educators do not have proper training on empathy and other crucial developmental factors, such as handling adversity (i.e. the death of a parent or sibling). Through our program, educators and students will:
- Learn the difference between habitual and empathic responses
- Explore what it means to be an empathic presence
- Develop skills to create a more empathic environment
- Understand what people need most is a sense of connection
To learn more about grief and adversity training, contact Good Grief online.