Roots of Empathy 

changing the world, child by child

Become an Instructor

Become a Roots FAmily

Become a Roots School

Become a Roots of Empathy Family

Roots of Empathy develops empathy in children today so they can build the world that they deserve. Research shows the program reduces aggression; increases sharing, caring and inclusion; and promotes resilience, well-being and positive mental health.

What sort of great teacher cultivates this sort of empathy?


In 50 first- and second-grade classrooms in Lane County, babies are the teachers. So far, 1,225 local kids have joined the one million children worldwide who have experienced a year of visits from a baby and caregiver. With the help of a trained Roots of Empathy Instructor, students learn to observe the baby’s development and to label the baby’s feelings. The Instructor, who also visits the classroom before and after each family visit, uses the children’s experiences with the baby to help them identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.

What happens when your family joins Roots of Empathy?

  • You demonstrate your parent-child attachment relationship, the first and most powerful model of empathy
  • You support the development of children’s social and emotional competence
  • You develop a better understanding of your baby’s development and needs
  • You build a positive connection to the children, the school, the community

1st and 2nd grade classrooms

children impacted in lane county

classroom visits over the course of one school year

Your Baby is a Gift to the Community

Would you like to help foster social and emotional competence in children in your community? Hear what Roots of Empathy parents have to say about their experiences with the program.

“Sharing my baby’s milestones”

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does a Roots of Empathy Family Do?

The heart of Roots of Empathy is the neighborhood parent and baby who join the Instructor in the classroom for nine Family Visits, each about 40 minutes long. Our program celebrates the power of the family in the development of the baby as a person. We will ask you to share with the students how it feels to be a parent. Students will have lots of questions about your baby and about what it takes to be a parent. Since we focus on the parent-infant bond, fathers and/or mothers are equally welcome to participate. The Roots of Empathy Instructor also visits a week before and a week after each Family Visit. This is to prepare and reinforce teachings using a specialized lesson plan for each visit.

The Roots of Empathy Commitment to You

At the start of the year, the Instructor will come to your home to talk about how the program will run and answer any questions you may have. The Instructor will call before each of the nine Family Visits to talk about the theme for the visit and tell you about questions the students have asked since the last Family Visit. Instructors are supported throughout the year by certified Roots of Empathy Mentors to ensure the best experience possible for your family.

Your baby will be loved by every student, and be a star in the school, and your family will be helping to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies. On the last Family Visit you will be given a photo album as a memento of your baby’s first year as a Roots of Empathy teacher and a Wishing Tree filled with children’s heartfelt wishes for “their baby.” At the end of the year, Roots of Empathy invites you to fill out a feedback form on your experience with the program.

The Roots of Empathy curriculum has received highest honors and is specialized for different age levels. There is a lesson plan for every visit; in total there are 27 Roots of Empathy visits during the school year. Nine themes are covered and each theme is addressed over three visits (Pre Family Visit, Family Visit, and Post Family Visit).

Overview of Classroom Visits

Pre-Family Visit

  • 9 visits total
  • Roots of Empathy Instructor without family
  • Each is 40 minutes in length
  • Focus on infant development and preparation for Family Visit
  • Students predict what changes they may see in the baby’s development at the Family Visit

Family Visit

  • 9 visits total
  • Roots of Empathy Instructor, parent(s), and baby
  • Approximately 40 minutes in length
  • Roots of Empathy Instructor guides students’ observations of the baby’s feelings, intentions, and the attachment relationship
  • Roots of Empathy Instructor demonstrates the baby’s physical and emotional development and temperament, and interacts with the baby through music (i.e., singing songs) and early learning games (e.g., peek-a-boo).
  • Students ask parent(s) questions about the baby

Post-Family Visit

  • 9 visits total
  • Roots of Empathy Instructor without family
  • Each is 40 minutes in length
  • Students reflect on their own feelings and focus on understanding the feelings of others (empathy)
  • Children’s literature and art/writing are used to foster perspective-taking, the cognitive aspect of empathy