Lit­tle Aliyah gives class a les­son

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By CARYN WIGMORE

Like most 1-year-olds Aliyah Takamore loves play­ing with her food as much as eat­ing it.

But when she plants her face into a bowl of noo­dles her cap­tive au­di­ence in­volves more than the usual mum and dad.

A class of 9 and 10-year-olds chuckle away at the baby’s eat­ing an­tics dur­ing the Roots of Em­pa­thy pro­gramme, led by teacher aide Ruth Carty.

The year 5 pupils have been learn­ing to un­der­stand oth­ers dur­ing a year of monthly vis­its from the baby Aliyah and her mum Emma Lock­hart.

Re­search shows the pro­gramme has helped to stop school bul­ly­ing in Canada where it was founded, Mrs Carty says.

The goal is for chil­dren to de­velop em­pa­thy to­wards oth­ers and un­der­stand ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent.

‘‘There are kids out there who can’t speak or can’t hear and kids go­ing through chal­lenges in life,’’ she says.

‘‘We en­cour­age the stu­dents to put them­selves in their shoes and try to un­der­stand how hard things might be for them.’’

Mrs Carty says the re­sponse has been fan­tas­tic and the mes­sage is get­ting through to most.

The cur­ricu­lum also cov­ers safety in the home, fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome, safe han­dling of ba­bies, their tem­per­a­ments and sleep­ing pat­terns.

Stu­dents even ex­plore the cloth ver­sus dis­pos­able nappy de­bate.

Aliyah has been vis­it­ing her school-aged pals since she was a newly weaned 4-month-old.

In­ter­ac­tion with the chil­dren has boosted the baby’s con­fi­dence and given her new so­cial skills.

‘‘When she started she was so clingy to her mum and timid but to­day she’s a lot dif­fer­ent,’’ Mrs Carty says. ‘‘She just loves the chil­dren and they love her.’’

Mrs Lock­hart says the pro­gramme has made the chil­dren more aware of younger stu­dents as well as giv­ing her daugh­ter new friends.

‘‘They are all very car­ing for Aliyah. The kids each wrote a poem, joined them to­gether and gave them to her.’’

Photo: CARYN WIGMORE

Teach­ing em­pa­thy: Baby Aliyah Takamore and mum Emma Lock­hart visit spend a day at school.

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