Can I Teach Empathy?

In my classroom each day we have a Family Meeting.  It’s a time where we cover our schedule of the day, have any announcements and have some general conversation.  We end the time by sharing joys and concerns.

This joys and concerns time can be amazing.  6-and-7-year olds sharing things like: My grandpa is having surgery please have good thoughts for him.  Or my mom is sick please have good thoughts for her.  My parents are traveling to another state please have good thoughts that they will be safe.  One day a little boy shared that his grandma had died. And so on. Many parents have commented about this time because their kids are sharing the concerns at nightly prayer time and they are so impressed with the empathy they are showing.

But sometimes–especially during joys–it’s all about them.  ‘I got to go fishing’ or ‘I got new shoes’ or ‘I am going to (insert a trip here) for spring break’.  It can become almost a contest. And I am not really sure how I feel about this–other than super annoyed because I am frustrated because they are bragging most of the time.

As I make the transition to joys and concerns, I make the statement, ‘boys and girls, please remember that joys and concerns are best when we think of others.’ I really want to encourage them to be on the lookout for how others are feeling. I am really trying to teach them to be mindful of others.  And to be humble.

So I guess I am pondering whether empathy can be taught or is it something that comes naturally to us as humans?




4 thoughts on “Can I Teach Empathy?

  1. How beautiful you share joys and concerns with your little ones!

    We are learning about empathy in our classroom. We share stories of how someone has shown empathy towards us or how we have shown it to someone else. We learned that empathy means, “I know how you feel.” A wonderful resource is “A Mindset for Learning: Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth” by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz.

  2. I have thought about your question all day. As it was spinning in my mind, I witnessed an interaction that will be my SOL tomorrow. I would like to link my blog post to this post.

    Your classroom sounds like an intentional place where you are not teaching curriculum, you are teaching children.

  3. Pingback: Can I Teach Empathy? | steps in the literacy journey

Comments are closed.