Mothers are taking newborn babies into schools as part of a scheme being launched in Britain to help cut aggressive behaviour among pupils, including teenage boys. It is based on a programme called Roots of Empathy, which is running in 1579 schools across Canada and is reported to have helped children’s social and emotional knowledge. The programme, which involves monthly question and answer sessions with a mother and her baby, has also been taken up in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
A pilot scheme in Liverpool has dramatically improved pupils’ behaviour, according to teachers. Paula Howard of De La Salle Humanities College, a school for 11- to 18-year-old boys, says teachers have “found a huge improvement in pupils’ behaviour and speaking and listening skills. One autistic child used to talk like a four-year-old. Since the scheme, his speech has improved and he uses longer, more structured sentences.”
A primary school teacher says pupils are more attentive during the mother and baby sessions and show more respect for others, taking turns to ask questions rather than talk over one another. A boy with a baby brother at home was resentful towards the visiting baby at first, but as he got to know the infant he started to talk about his own experiences and became a lot more co-operative, says the teacher.
The director of the Liverpool scheme said: “The aim is to inspire all kids in all schools into learning. The current education system is too rigorous and structured. There needs to be a catalyst that gets the children excited about education. To have a newborn baby come in and to witness its growth is something out of the ordinary. It creates that missing spark to learning.” ~ Times Educational Supplement, Feb 20