Teaching Kids Empathy Produces The Happiest Nation

teaching kids empathy

Most of us understand what a Danish pastry is — that wonderful caloric blast of hard breakfast deliciousness. But what about a classroom meal? And additionally, how can this help teach empathy in kids?
The co-authors of the book “The Danish Way of Parenting; What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids” interviewed numerous teachers and students across Denmark to learn how they integrate empathy in schools and in their home. Just as important as teaching math and literature in school, empathy is a significant part of the Danish education system, and it is woven to the school’s program from pre-school through school.

The Danes’ highly developed sense of empathy is one of the key factors why Denmark is continually voted one of the happiest nations on the planet (this year it is yet again number 1). Empathy plays a key part in enhancing their interpersonal connections, which is a key factor in their total happiness.

What many don’t recognize is the fact that empathy can be a skill that can be learned but sadly, this is significantly missing in America. In fact, some studies show empathy levels have slipped up within the last 30 years to 40 percent within the U.S., while narcissism is on the steady climb.

Why is teaching empathy to kids so important?

Klassen Time kage

Training empathy hasn’t simply been proven to help reduce violence and to produce kids socially capable and more psychologically, in addition it can support them be much more prosperous and high -operating people later on in life. A recent study from Penn and Duke State followed more than 750 people for 20 years, and found that those that were able to communicate their feelings willingly and help other children in schools, were likely to graduate from senior high school and also have full-time jobs. Pupils who weren’t as good, were more likely go-to juvenile detention, to drop-out of institution, or need government support.

“Klassen Time Kage” or “the Class Hour Cake.”

The authors had illustrated several empathy programs for younger kids in their book, but one of many best programs, that starts around the first time in schools at six years of age up and remains until graduation at age sixteen, is known as “Klassen Time Kage” or “the Class Hour Cake.” It’s one of the methods Danes become so experienced at empathy as they mature.

“The Class Hour Cake” is held once once a week on a particular time, and it is a key the main subject of the program. The purpose is for all the individuals to gather together in an appropriate environment to share any difficulties that they may be having. The group will try to find a solution. For example, this could be an issue between two students, or it could be anything unrelated to school. If there were no issues to be discuss, they will just relax and unwind and hygge together.

Now, that is where “the Class Hour Cake” or the “Klassen Time Kage” comes in. It’s a simple cake that each student take turns baking each week for the occasion. If they don’t want to prepare the food, they can bring any hyggelige (cozy) snack to savor together after the talk. The Glass Hour Cake” is an important culture of Danish tradition that it even has its own recipe.

Class Hour cake

Throughout “the Class’s Hour Cake”, any problems the teachers noticed, it will be shared with the the students for further discussion.

“I remember we usually talked about girl cliques,” when we were 11 or 10 says a Danish senior high school student Anne Mikkelson from Strøer. “That was a common matter, and it would be discussed together and attempt to fix it together. Even if a solution cannot be found, just by discussing it together, can help one to be more sociable and open to one another. To be willing to talk about it, can tremendously help in the development of one’s life skills.

“The important thing is that everyone is heard,” says Jesper Vang, a middle school teacher at Tingkærskolen in Odense.

“Our job as the teacher is to make sure that the children understand how the other feels, and see why the other feels as they do. This way, we come up with a solution together based on real listening and real understanding.”

Klassen Time Kage

Whilst it isn’t clear what gets discussed weekly, it’s clear that “the Class’s Hour Cake” is teaching empathy and assisting pupils learn to comprehend others’ emotions, not only their own. It’s assisting social connectedness as opposed to divide.

It’s interesting to consider utilizing the Class’s Hour concept inside of our U.S. school system, and the benefit it can do to improve our quality of life. By saving an hour weekly, coming together, bringing our problems to the table, and trying to find a solution together, I can’t help but feel this could be the missing link to make us a more happy nation.


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