Babies generally don't do much except be absolutely adorable. But in elementary schools throughout Canada, Scotland, New Zealand and now in Washington DC, a few little ones have been serving as teachers, and helping kids learn empathy. Through the Roots of Empathy program, kids in classrooms get visits from a volunteer baby (and her parent), where they get to interact with the baby, ask questions, and start a conversation about things like emotions and the reasons why a baby (or anyone) would cry.
According to an article in the Washington Post, studies of the Roots program find that it helps decrease bullying and increase helping among classmates. Still, that hasn't stopped some experts from worrying that it's taking resources and time away from learning other valuable skills, especially in cash-strapped school districts.
Personally, I'd love to see programs like this expand to schools around the country. I see already how kids' attitudes improve and behaviors calm when everyone's cooing around a classmate's baby sister or brother—and anything that can reduce the amount of bullying that goes on in the schools is A-OK in my book. And after all, empathy and cooperation can be just as key to future success as math and language skills. My daughters' school does something similar, with the guidance counselor's dog stepping in for the baby in this case. I think that's definitely helped improve behavior in some of the students.
Tell us: Would you bring your baby in to help with a program like this? Do you think spending time with babies can benefit older kids?
Image: Baby by Dmitry Lobanov/Shutterstock.com