In anticipation of our first schoolwide Community Celebration assembly (formerly known as “Character Cats”) on the topic of empathy, all PreFirst through 2nd grade students are learning about empathy in our counseling lessons. We are discussing what it means to understand and care about how others feel. In a few weeks, the concept of empathy will be the focus of the younger students’ Second Step lessons. In 3rd-5th grades, the students already are learning about it in Second Step.
All PreFirst-2nd grade students have seen this short, fun video from Sesame Street about empathy. Second graders have made up short skits, demonstrating empathy in action, and children in PreFirst and 1st grade have played a game about guessing how someone else is feeling. Students have been sharing wonderful examples of how they’ve shown empathy to others or how classmates have cared for them in return.
Our October 16 Community Celebration will be a celebration of empathy, led by Mrs. Plunkett’s and Ms. Jagger’s 5th grade students. This week, they’re finalizing their skits and songs, and they’re looking great! The students have come up with real-life situations with which the younger Wildcats in the audience will connect — feeling left out on the playground, wondering why someone suddenly is acting in a mean way toward others, watching a classmate trip and fall to the ground, feeling embarrassed in class… These are just some of the applicable skits everyone will see next week.
Sometime this year in our counseling classes, we’ll read Hey Little Ant, which encourages children to imagine a situation from another person’s perspective… or another creature’s perspective. Should the boy in the story squish the ant? Or should he let the ant go free? What if the ant were the big one — what would the boy want the ant to do? This book is a great conversation starter for kids not only about empathy but also peer pressure and other concepts.
This focus on empathy in the Lower School is so important. Here are a few additional links to interesting books, videos, and information about empathy:
Books about empathy here
Video from Cleveland Clinic about empathy here on YouTube.