1. Roots of Empathy presents an excellent opportunity to invite a parent from the community to participate in the school program. There is a ripple of feedback as the children see the parent as a local hero and your school builds connection within the community.
2. Babies need to be 2 – 4 months old at the start of the program. The Roots of Empathy family demonstrates the parent-child attachment relationship and the baby’s development over the year. If a baby is younger than 2 months or older than 4 months at the beginning of the program, the full span of development outlined in our curriculum may not be demonstrated. We do not use twins in the same classroom as the individual parent-infant bond is not as apparent and teaching points are not as evident with focus divided by two. If possible, we welcome parents of twins to choose one twin to participate as an ROE family and occasionally, to take on two classrooms – one for each twin.
3. Principles of social inclusion are fundamental to the Roots of Empathy program:
o We encourage representation of all types of families; single parents are as welcome as dual-parent families.
o We encourage participation of parents from marginalized populations.
o We welcome families for whom English is not their first language.
o Fathers and/or mothers are equally welcome to participate, since we focus on the parent-child bond. Other adults (caregivers, grandparents, etc.) may not attend the program with the baby.
o Roots of Empathywelcomes babies who have a physical or developmental challenge and our National Office will provide special support to the Instructor
4. To ensure the integrity of the program and out of respect to the students, a family should be in a position to honour their commitment to visit the classroom at the agreed-upon date and time for the full school year.
5. A Roots of Empathy parent should be at ease in their parenting role and comfortable with the circumstances of the classroom visits (sitting among a group of students, answering questions and contributing information about their babies). Schools often wish to support vulnerable parents, hoping that the ROE experience will support them in their parenting. ROE recommends against this approach. Our first commitment is to provide the students with a reliable, predictable parent-child relationship to use as a working model of responsive and responsible parenting. High-risk parents with personal challenges are not able to meet these requirements and a huge investment of the Instructors’ time is then required to support the vulnerable parent, which is not part of our mandate. This guideline does not apply in any way to a family’s socio-economic standing, culture or language.
1. At a school staff meeting, ask your teachers if any students have new baby siblings or moms who are expecting.
2. If you have a Parenting Centre or Daycare Centre in/by the school, talk to the Director. Do any of the children who attend have a new sibling? Are any of the moms expecting a baby this summer?
3. Display the poster “Parent and Infant Needed in Our School” by school entrances where parents & caregivers pick up/drop off the children. (We do not recommend displaying the poster off school property.)
4. Make a request during the morning announcements on the P.A. (e.g. “We are looking for a parent and baby to participate in a classroom program. If your mom is expecting a baby this summer, maybe she can help. Drop by the school office to pick up an information sheet.”)
5. Put a short note in the school newsletter.
6. Look for opportunities within the school to talk about the benefits of the Roots of Empathy program. The more parents know about the program, the more they will be willing to become involved.
7. Make a presentation at a Parent Council School Meeting. Show the 11-minute information video (available free from Roots of Empathy), discuss the impact of the program, and make a request for assistance in finding a neighbourhood parent & baby.
8. If your school has “parent representatives” for each classroom, spread the word to this influential group.
9. Discuss the program with your school nurse. She may be a valuable resource in helping to identify a parent & baby.
10. Contact your ROE Key Point Person for family recruitment resources (posters and information sheets) to assist with finding babies. Posters can be printed in colour or on coloured paper, displayed in areas where new parents will see it and sent home with students in Kindergarten to grade 3.