Tiny teachers prove a calming influence to combat bullying

The scheme has been a success in North lanarkshire
The scheme has been a success in North lanarkshire
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YOU might not think a newborn baby could teach you much beyond how well you can cope without a wink of sleep.

But in classrooms across the Capital babies just a few months old are taking up new roles as teachers – and are helping combat bullying.

Jane and daughter Jessica have helped make the scheme a success

Jane and daughter Jessica have helped make the scheme a success

The tiny teachers are being brought into classrooms to teach older children lessons about empathy and emotions, with the project’s ultimate aim a reduction in levels of bullying and fighting in schools.

Run by the Action for Children charity, the Roots of Empathy scheme plans to send babies and their mothers into seven Edinburgh schools so that children witness the loving interaction between them.

The project has already started in Castleview Primary in Craigmillar, where teachers say they have noticed a difference in pupils.

P3 class teacher Lindsay Finch said: “It’s having a positive impact. They are becoming more settled and you hear them saying ‘you wouldn’t do that to baby Jessica’.

“They have more understanding of other people so it’s been very worthwhile so far.”

Before each visit, pupils are given a particular theme to discuss with a project worker – such as emotions, safety or crying – and after each visit by the mother and baby, the children will discuss what they learned.

Action for Children project worker Claire Fraser said: “It’s a journey for the class in developing their sense of empathy.

“The children in the class learn to explore their feelings through understanding the baby and the baby’s feelings and linking the connection between the two.

“The main aim is to develop, long-term, the children’s sense of empathy, to reduce bullying and develop emotional literacy.”

Seven baby volunteers and mums have been recruited in Edinburgh to visit the seven schools involved – Clovenstone, St Francis, Castleview, Canal View, Niddrie Mill, Sighthill and Newcraighall primaries.

They will visit their schools once every three weeks for the rest of the school year, whilst a project worker visits every week.

Jane Pryde, 36, is one of the volunteers and takes her three-month-old baby Jessica into Castleview Primary.

Mrs Pryde, who lives just outside Pathhead, said: “Hopefully it will work just to get them thinking about how other people see things. They were attentive and interested in Jessica and a lot of them were sharing their experiences with their brothers and sisters.

“The kids were lovely and they enjoyed seeing the baby.”