Babywatching for Empathy
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Helen Ingham, Headteacher at Ivydale Primary School
"Babywatching is making a real and positive difference for the children taking part. It is an integral part of our values based education, enabling children to have greater awareness of the impact of their behaviour on others. The power to influence the development of children's empathy, love and compassion is hidden within the simplicity of the Babywatching concept."
Stacey Thomas, Primary School Teacher, Hinckley Parks Primary School
A Babywatching mum from a group at Ivydale Primary, London
"People ask me all the time what is baby watching and why do I take J each week? I love taking J to see our class every week and hear what they have to say about his development. It’s valuable for both the class and my baby 🙂 would highly recommend it!"
Michele Crooks, CEO running a group at a Leicestershire School
Working with a Year 1 class today and we were exploring baby's joy at being able to stand (with a little support from mum) and what was he enjoying because he was smiling with delight at Mummy. One of the children commented that baby J wanted to stand so he could look in Mummy's face and be close to her. Mummy was so moved by this! Mum commented that comments like that are so positive and boost your confidence at being a 'mum', it's one she's taken away to treasure.
Group Leader, Carr Junior School, York
My initial fears of a whole class have disappeared in fact I find it a lot easier than working with only 10 children like last time. The sessions seem to flow easier and I am able to explore their answers in greater depth.
Perivale Primary school Group Leader
'We have had two sessions and after our first session the mum, who is also a teacher in the school, asked if I heard D talk. I have to confess I didn't, however, she mentioned he had uttered a couple of words which is something he never does in a group or in front of adults as he is a selective mute. Week two he did not stop talking. The school are blown away by this.'
Ealing Group Leader
'The children were a lot calmer, joyous when L rolled over clapping in unison and helping L go to sleep by being really quiet. One LAC child reflected on how mummy kept L safe and how he wanted to be a baby.'
Susannah Bellingham, Headteacher at Brunswick Park Primary School, Camberwell
'Babywatching is an extremely valuable resource at Brunswick Park. I have witnessed its power to promote empathy and develop children's ability to recognise and respond to facial expressions and their meanings. It encourages children to relate to each other positively, and build good relationships with other people.'
Brighton Teacher
'Watching G interacting with her mum has helped many of the children develop their ability to show empathy – a skill so vital for good social relationships. They have looked forward to each session and often talk about what has happened in the days after. Most of the children have enjoyed keeping their journals up-to-date too and their comments show their reflections and thoughts – again these support the effectiveness of Babywatching.

From a teacher’s perspective, the programme has supported topics covered in PSHE, such as, feelings we have in different situations and how we respond to them and treat others. Additionally, it has been great to see the children’s confidence increase, so they felt more than comfortable to share their thoughts and experiences with each other.'
Our Lady of Grace Infant school
Children from a Babywatching class, Coleridge Primary, London
This is what class RA said about Babywatching on Thursdays....
I love watching E growing.
She is always happy because I always see her with a smile on her face.
She gets so happy looking around at all of our faces.
I feel very proud that E can crawl and shake the maraca!

We have noticed....
Baby E wants milk from her Mummy when she is hungry.
When she is sitting on Mummy's lap and she drops a toy, Mummy will help her get it back.
Baby E always goes back to Mummy when she crawls off.
E smiles on her Mummy's lap.
Baby E always shakes the rattle for Mummy to see.
She sometimes crawls away from Mummy and gets upset when she is too far away.

We feel watching them together....
Jealous because I don't have my mummy in Babywatching and E does.
Content because E has her Mummy.
Surprised because E does different things.
Happy and sad because I would like my Mummy there and when I see D and baby E I like it but it makes me want my Mummy.
I would worry if I was E in case the children would take my toys.

Watching Mummy and baby brings to mind....
I would be afraid in front of so many people.
I would feel suspicious if I was a baby because all the faces are different to mine.
When I was a baby I think I would be frustrated because I couldn't do very many things.
When I was a baby I liked dummies to comfort me but E doesn't need that.
London, Class Teacher
'I didn’t expect the impact. For example one boy who started this year constantly calling out, interrupting the whole class and unable to co-operate with his peers has changed significantly. The baby’s development fascinated him and he was able to watch in an unexpectedly calm way. But he was also able to share with us changes in his baby brother at home and amazingly he is a changed boy. His friendships are more secure and he is calmer throughout the day.'

Children in Year 4 wrote or said …
Boy: How I feel about baby watching is that we get to see how we grow into ourselves.

Girl: I enjoy babywatching because I observed, how baby's and mothers communicate and react to other people. I have learnt that baby’s show their emotions by crying, laughing, moaning, having tantrums. When M picks him up and hes crying he stops crying because he likes when M picks him up and M's body is close to L it is comforting to L.

Boy: I have learnt to write about L. My writing has improved.

Girl: Babywatching makes me feel curious to learn more about baby’s especially baby L. I feel special when I do baby watching, I feel special because I learn new things about babies and I observe what babies can do. Babywatching is a skill it helps you to observe non-verbally. Babywatching, gives me mixed emotions, it has also helped me to improve in me learning. I think baby watching is good because it is helping us to learn how to communicate without speaking. I mean it helps us to communicate with our eyes not mouth.

Boy: Watching the baby makes me feel normal and adventurous because I don’t know what L would do. He might explore with his mouth, might stand or maybe crawl. The experience was very fun, so that’s the point of babywatching.

Girl: Babywatching makes me feel calm.

Girl: I feel happy at baby watching cause it’s has also helped my learning since we started doing the activity baby watching.

Boy: I feel very interested.

Girl: I learnt how babies react and get on with their lives. I now understand how babies communicate with other people.

Boy: In babywatching L makes me feel happy, he makes me feel about my own brother. Every time I look at L he makes me smile. He makes me know how to be a big brother; it makes me know if I smile my brother smiles. Babywatching taught me lots of things that's how it makes me feel.

Girl: Babywatching helps me learn better because its helps me to observe better.

Boy: Since we have been doing babywatching it’s been helping me to identify other things.
Group Leader, Isle of Man
'The children have all delighted in the program and really look forward to seeing the baby and his mum and their behaviour has been amazing, no incidents and their concentration, attention and most importantly their observations have been so interesting!'
Grafton Primary Group Leader and teacher
‘A child noticed "She (the baby) was sad when she couldn't reach her toy" - afterwards one boy helped another get his pencil back when another child had taken it.’
Many teachers in all schools have reported.
‘Better concentration for lots of children and many more spoken ideas from children who rarely speak’.
Ivydale Primary school Group Leader
‘The group of children we were concerned about are reintegrated back into the classroom with no further exclusions. It is still very early days, however I hope Babywatching has begun to provide them with some of the skills to communicate and empathise with one another leading to less frustration and acting out.’
Camberwell Teaching Assistant
'I finally get what it is you do! It's good to see even the quiet children contribute their opinions and other children are keen to hear what they have to say!’
Camberwell Mother
‘The children are so thoughtful. They notice N in ways my family don't. I often get a rudimentary statement such as "she's grown" whereas the children notice things even I've failed to notice. I feel immensely proud they are celebrating my daughter’s development’.
South London Primary Group Leader
‘The group has allowed adults to view certain children in a different light. It's allowed the children to be keen to share their ideas and be excited to hear each other's. It creates such a warm, supportive and permission giving atmosphere. It's a joy to be part of such intimate moments between mother and baby.’
Ealing Mentor
‘In a group with special needs, two boys with lots of rough behaviour developed to helping each other with their shoes at the end of group.’
South London Mentor
‘Babywatching had a benign effect on a troubled school – it took teachers back to liking working with children – and brought out the best in all.’
Brighton Mother
‘Teachers in the staff room told me “Your class were so mean to each other in the playground last year. This year they’re so different.” I said to my Mentor “It can’t be Babywatching, surely?” The Mentor said “perhaps it’s you - you’re their teacher this year”. I just looked again at my class playing tag. The Mentor said, “or perhaps it’s both, you AND Babywatching”. That made me smile!’
Class teacher, Ivydale Primary School
‘It's fantastic to see this new side to some of my students’.
Year 3 class teacher, Ivydale Primary School
‘Babywatching has provided time for children to express themselves freely and engage with their own feelings and empathise with those of mother and baby. Over time I have noticed these skills filter into daily life in the classroom. I thoroughly enjoy listening to the children interpret and observe in the baby watching circle.​’
Christine Thorne - Assistant Head, Inclusion. Ivydale Primary School, SE London.
‘Babywatching has been great for children with a range of needs. I have seen a difference with some of the more boisterous children for whom I would not have thought it would work so well. Apart from EBD and SEN children I think EAL children have been able to access and benefit from these sessions’
Helen Ingham, Headteacher at Ivydale Primary School
‘Babywatching is making a real and positive difference for the children taking part. It is an integral part of our values based education enabling children to have greater awareness of the impact of their behaviour on others. The power to influence the development of children's empathy, love and compassion is hidden within the simplicity of the Babywatching concept.’
M, aged 8
‘Donna made O feel calm and brave by stroking his head’
G, aged 7
‘I felt jealous today because I wanted cuddles from my mummy.’
K, aged 8
‘I saw J have his nappy changed but I looked away so he didn't feel shy’
D, aged 8
‘I saw G pulling funny faces at me because she liked me. It made me feel lovable.’
N, aged 8
‘I saw O do his first roll all by himself. He was very brave. He even did it both ways because he was feeling confident’.
London, Class Teacher
“I have seen children who struggle with stressful situations in their home life become calmer and more open to another’s feelings”

Children in Year 3 said or wrote …..

Girl: We look forward to seeing D and are very quiet when she comes in the room. Our teacher doesn’t need to remind us we just know to be quiet.

Boy: She uses her mouth to tell us things. We kind of understand baby language.

Girl: We understand how carers look after babies - how the baby’s grandma knows what the baby wants and how she uses her body to comfort her.

Boy: We see how D develops in her heart.
Michele Crooks, Trainer, Mentor and Group Leader
‘After three years of being involved with Babywatching, I am still as passionately committed to its simplicity and its clear impact on children. I have yet to experience a more effective whole class intervention that so utterly captivates children and teaches them about relationships and positive attachment.’
Group Leader Leicestershire
‘A cohort that have been very behaviourally challenging since year 3, have shown huge respect for my mum and baby, which shows a capacity in each child for positive relationship. That journey of awareness that starts by observing mum and baby’s relationship slowly moves to a greater self-awareness for each child on how they relate as the year progresses. Some children make huge leaps and model this to others, other children’s steps are much smaller.’
Westfield Junior School, Mentor
All of the mums have really valued the experience and their babies have loved it! They enjoy the children, as much as the children enjoy them. That initial self-consciousness that up to 30 children are watching dissipates incredibly quickly and the chance to treasure time with their baby and the beautiful, affirming comments children make about mum and baby make it quite a special 20 mins for ‘both sides’.
Woodcote Primary School
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