Empathy Learning: SEL Lessons

A key part of social and emotional learning (SEL) is teaching children about empathy. Empathy is important when you're building relationships because it helps you to form connections and understand what other people are feeling. If you're looking for ways to introduce the concept of empathy to children, there are some things that you can do. Here's a look at some of the tips that can help you with empathy education.

Start By Introducing the Concept Of Empathy

The first step of any type of empathy education is explaining what empathy is. You can define the concept at an age-appropriate level, and then perhaps give the children some examples of what empathy feels like. Consider examples that would fit their age group and typical behaviors. Remember that, the more they can relate to the situation, the easier it will be for them to grasp a new concept.

Move Into Practical Empathy Considerations

The next step, once the kids understand what empathy is, is to think about clear connections with times when they actually felt empathy, even if they didn't know what it was. Ask each child to think about and share a time when they were upset or their feelings were hurt and they wished that someone could understand how they felt. 

Then, ask if they have ever seen a friend go through something that they've been through themselves, during which time they felt sad for their friend and understood exactly what he or she was going through. Considering these points and the emotions that they felt at those times will help kids to fully understand what empathy is. 

Provide Role-Play Encounters to Practice

Once you've given kids the chance to understand what empathy is and apply it to their own real-life experiences, it's time to drive the point home with some role-playing techniques. Separate kids into a couple of groups and hand out character cards so that each child plays a role in a skit that warrants empathy. After the skits are over, talk through each one and try to draw out the empathetic feelings from each of the children who were involved. 

Teaching children social and emotional skills is essential for helping them to become well-rounded adults later in life. Since children struggle with processing their own emotions and understanding how to manage them, these SEL curriculum lesson plans are essential. With these tips, you can help your students grasp the meaning and practical application of empathy.