BABIES could be the answer to tackling the problem of bullying in Scottish schools.
Tots as young as a few months old are being brought in to one Scottish primary to teach older children lessons about empathy and emotions.
The ultimate aim of the Tiny Teacher project – based inEdinburgh- is to reduce the levels of bullying and fighting in schools.
Run by the Action for Children charity, the Roots of Empathy scheme plans to send babies and their mothers into seven schools across the city so that children witness the loving interaction between them.
The project has already started in one primary school, where teachers say they have noticed a difference in their pupils behaviour.
P3 teacher in Castleview Primary in Craigmillar, Lindsay Finch said: “It’s having a positive impact. They are becoming more settled and you hear them say ‘you wouldn’t do that to baby Jessica.’
“They have more understanding of other people so it’s been very worthwhile so far.”
Before each baby visit, pupils are given a theme to discuss with project workers such as emotions, safety or crying.
When mum and baby have gone home, the children then discuss what they learned.
Action for Children project worker Claire Fraser said: “It’s a journey for the class in developing their sense of empathy.
“The children in the class learn to explore their feelings through understanding the baby and the baby’s feelings and linking the connection between the two.
“The main aim is to develop, long-term, the children’s sense of empathy, to reduce bullying and develop emotional literacy.”
Seven baby volunteers and mums have been recruited to visit the schools involved- Clovenstone, St Francis, Castleview, Canal View, Niddrie Mill, Sighthill and Newcraighall primaries.
The tiny teachers will visit their schools once every three weeks for the rest of the school year, whilst a project worker visits every week.
Jane Pryde, 36, is one of the volunteers and takes her three month-old baby Jessica into Castleview primary.
Mrs Pryde, who lives just outside Pathhead said: “Hopefully it will work just to get them thinking about how other people see things. They were attentive and interested in Jessica and a lot of them were sharing their experiences with their brothers and sisters.
“The kids were lovely and they enjoyed seeing the baby.”