Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Caring Kids in the Classroom

Chapter 4
Caring Kids: Teaching Empathy Through Play

Empathy: An Exploration

The Seeds of Empathy
Empathy is our ability to feel what another person is feeling. It is what helps us care about what happens to others and build relationships. Through play children build empathy. Students may be playing tag and one students begins to cry. The other student is understanding that what they think is fun is not always fun for another. Empathy can be developed through the social aspect of play.

Choosing Empathy Means Choosing Play
Children these days have become very dependent on electronics which has become to affect their social skills. Children often tune out when using electronic devices that they don’t socialize with others. Through imaginative play, children have the chance to show empathy through role playing. They can be a chef, a mom, etc. This gives them the chance to understand what it is like to be that person and what they experience. Through rough and tumble play, children have the chance to explore empathy while playing tag by learning to set boundaries, and give and take.

Exploring Empathy in Play

Focus Area One: Studying Faces and Bodies to Understand Emotions (My Own and Others)
Our children feel strongly each and every day.  Many children experience their feelings for the first time in school. They may get jealous of friends playing with others. They may feel frustrated when they are playing and things aren’t going their way. Our jobs as educators is to help them understand their emotions. Here are some ways we might teach the studying of faces and bodies to understand emotions.
When children need:
An understanding of a range of emotions
What we might teach:
-Feelings can go from big to small.
-Faces and bodies tell us how other people are feeling.
-Precise language helps us name and change our feelings.

When children need:
Help with calming down or changing feelings from negative to positive
What we might teach:
-Signs you are getting excited
-Strategies to calm your body
-Stop and think

When children need:
An ability to “read” and react to others’ faces and bodies when playing
What we might teach:
-Using words to get more information
-Sort photos of faces into categories

Focus Area Two: Taking on Roles to Build Perspective Taking
When learning empathy it also requires us to step into another’s role fully. By role playing, we lay the essential foundation for perspective taking. Here are ways we might teach this.
When children need:
Support talking like other characters in order to better understand their perspective
What we might teach:
-Common language of certain roles: family members, friends, waiters, cashiers, doctors, etc.
-Observing closely by watching videos, taking trips, and reading books.

When children need:
Help transforming their appearance to better understand another’s perspective
What we might teach:
-Different ways to manipulate art materials
-Studying photos bit by bit to get small details

When children need:
Help transforming their actions to better understand another’s perspective
What we might teach:
-Storytelling with fairy tales and fables and asking
-Acting activities

When children need:
Using perspective taking to better understand others
What we might teach:
-Reflection questions

Is It Done? Are We Empathic Yet?
Developing empathy is never done. It takes time. We will need to revisit it throughout the year as our children grow and change.

Curriculum Connections: Empathy
Empathy is often developed during choice time, but it does branch out into other aspects of our daily routine.

By developing a child’s empathy, they will have a better understanding of a character’s emotions. They will be able to understand how a character is feeling.


Students have a better understanding of how people act and feel, which will help them to move from summary writing to storytelling.

Social Studies
Students will be able to make real world connections about feelings when studying the community around us.

What are some ideas you have from this chapter?

Don’t forget to join me on my book study on play by reading Purposeful Play. Find it  HERE. 


Mary McGough said...

Again this chapter was spot on. Many of our students do not have empathy. It is so important that empathy is developed at this young age. I agree again play helps to show others have feelings. Through play children learn to consider other children's feelings.

cdoyle said...

Late in entering the Blog...Loving this book. So excited to implement these ideas into my class. MA added Social & Emotional Learning standards and Approaches to Play to the Kindergarten & Preschool standards so this really fits in. My co-workers are committed to doing this. I have suggested this book to them. Thank you for the BLOG.