Students have been given a fascinating insight into child development to help them share their own feelings about growing up.
The 27-week Roots of Empathy programme involved nine schools in Newcastle and culminated in a special event hosted by Trinity Academy, in the west end of the city.
Six months ago, each school partnered with a baby and their family in the innovative scheme established by Roots of Empathy, Canada.
The babies have visited the schools and as the weeks and months have gone by the children have witnessed them growing from just two to four-months-old to crawling and now walking.
Shirley Southern, acting assistant head at Trinity Academy, said: “The aim is to develop the emotional literacy of the children through empathy. When they see a baby, play and interact with them and we discuss how babies express themselves, it makes the children more likely to think about and want to share their own feelings.”
The course covered nine themes and involved the children making predictions about how the babies would increase in weight and length and then testing their estimates.
They also considered how the babies communicated and showed their feelings when eating different foods and playing.
Trinity Academy pupil Kenny, 13, said of their baby, Lucas, the brother of an academy pupil: “At first he didn’t have any hair but now he’s got blond hair. He used to not be able to pick anything up but now he grabs things. He doesn’t like lemon but he loves cheese puffs. It’s been amazing to see him get older.”
Pupil Laura, 11, said: “I learned that babies need help to grow and keep healthy.”
Representatives from five of the schools took part in the celebration day to mark the end of the programme, together with their babies.
The school children sang songs and played with them and each pupil wrote down their hopes and wishes for their baby, which included: “I hope you get the best of things”, “I hope you grow up to be big and strong” and “I have a good feeling that you will grow up to be rich and tall”.
Mrs Southern added: “It was a privilege to host the Roots of Empathy celebration at Trinity Academy. This is the fourth year we’ve been involved in the programme and we have found it to be really valuable in helping to develop our children’s emotional literacy.”