How to Teach Empathy in the Classroom

Empathy is the character trait where one is really putting themselves in someone else’s place. It’s more than just sympathy and feeling sorry for another person. It’s putting yourself in another’s shoes and truly trying to understand what they are going through. This is a hard concept  for young people (and even some adults) to grasp. Can you teach empathy? I have been asked that so many times as a parent and a teacher. Yes, you absolutely can. There are many ways to teach empathy in your classroom. The earlier you start, the more likely students are going to exhibit empathetic characteristics in their own lives. 

Module 7 in The Encouraging Classroom focuses on the character trait of empathy. Here are some great ways how to teach empathy in the classroom.

Use “empathy” paper dolls

Have your students make paper dolls to illustrate their own emotions. Each doll template in  The Encouraging Classroom comes with several different emotions. Your students will be able to use these dolls when you are teaching about empathy in the classroom. Some activities you may want to try with the dolls include:

  • Using the paper doll to tell a story about when they felt different emotions
  • Showing  how someone is feeling in a story or real life using the paper doll
  • Acting out scenarios when they are showing empathy using the paper dolls
  • Writing about a time they showed empathy and using the paper doll to help them think about the emotions and feelings involved

Using dolls helps students express their emotions without feeling embarrassed or put on the spot. It’s a perfect way to start relating to others and empathizing! 

Teaching empathy in the classroom can be tricky.  Social emotional learning is a must have focus in all classrooms but we aren't always given the resources to do it.  This post gives you ideas in teaching empathy in the classroom.

Sort characteristics and non-characteristics of empathy

Have your students sort what empathy  is and isn’t on the sorting chart from The Encouraging Classroom. Students cut behavior actions off the bottom of the page.  Then they read and sort the actions into two categories: empathetic & NOT empathetic. Some empathetic actions include holding the door for someone or asking a friend why they are crying. Some NOT empathetic actions include pointing at a person who has a disability or laughing when someone drops their lunch. By recognizing what behaviors are and are not empathetic, your students can start to practice empathy in their own lives. 

Teaching empathy in the classroom can be tricky.  Social emotional learning is a must have focus in all classrooms but we aren't always given the resources to do it.  This post gives you ideas in teaching empathy in the classroom.

Reinforce empathy at home

Home connections are perfect ways to practice skills and reinforce what you’re teaching in class. The home connection sheet from The Encouraging Classroom helps facilitate conversations about empathy with parents and guardians. By encouraging parents to discuss specific scenarios which require empathy, your students can make that home-school connection. 

Teaching empathy in the classroom can be tricky.  Social emotional learning is a must have focus in all classrooms but we aren't always given the resources to do it.  This post gives you ideas in teaching empathy in the classroom.

Read and write about empathy

One of my favorite things about  The Encouraging Classroom character curriculum is connecting reading and writing to what the students are learning in class. The empathy resources include  passages at 1st grade and 2nd grade reading level.  Passages are perfect to use in reading centers, with a whole group, or independently.  First, students read the passage. The passage has a difficult situation involving empathy but it does not have an ending.  Next, the students need to decide how to respond to the situation with guided writing and reflection. 

Get ready to help your students manage their emotions and show understanding towards others  with the character trait of empathy. Use activities and resources from The Encouraging Classroom to know how to teach empathy in the classroom.

Use the image below to save this post to your Pinterest board.

Teaching empathy in the classroom can be tricky.  Social emotional learning is a must have focus in all classrooms but we aren't always given the resources to do it.  This post gives you ideas in teaching empathy in the classroom.

1 Comment

  1. carol allen

    What a great lesson! I cannot wait to use this is the fall.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

read more

Follow me on

Shop with us

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This