Forest Trail Elementary

Teaching Social Awareness and Empathy Today

Children model how they see adults act.  They are more inclined to do what we do instead of doing what we say.  This is especially true in terms of how we treat others and how we model empathy and compassion.  We believe that social awareness and empathy can be taught - that children can learn how to understand the feelings of others, even if they come from diverse backgrounds or traditions. To foster this skill in our children, we often have to block out a lot of the noise of the outside world and find opportunities to model and embrace empathy.  

Social awareness is among the five core competencies of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), something we have been teaching our students about for a number of years.  At Eanes ISD, this skill is the foundation upon everything else we teach our students. Social awareness is the district focus during the third nine weeks of each school year. Specifically, a healthy social awareness is about:

  • Taking others’ perspectives
  • Recognizing strengths in others
  • Demonstrating empathy and compassion
  • Showing concern for the feelings of others
  • Understanding and expressing gratitude
  • Identifying diverse social norms, including unjust ones
  • Recognizing situational demands and opportunities
  • Understanding the influences of organizations and systems on behaviors

The primary goal of the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiative in Eanes ISD is to help build a school community of trust by encouraging an understanding of and appreciation of our differences.  We want our students to understand that we are all unique in our own way and that it is our differences that make us the remarkable people we are. By treating each other with understanding, respect, and kindness, we have the opportunity to enrich our own lives by learning about people who are different from us.  

What can each of us do to promote social awareness and empathy? While this is difficult during a pandemic when we may not be able to interact as much with each other in the broader community, some of us have more time than usual together as families.  Helping our children talk about and process what they are seeing and reading about in the news and on social media is an important part of their developing a healthy understanding of and compassion for others.  Helping them understand how their actions towards others may either contribute to someone feeling loved and accepted or make them feel marginalized and inferior.

Each of us can be a role model for a child, whether or not we have children of our own. In the words of Brene Brown, “First and foremost, we need to be the adults we want our children to be...we should model the kindness we want to see.”

Please check out these links with more ideas on how to teach your child to become more socially aware and empathetic. 

3 Strategies to Improve Social Awareness in Children

6 Great Ways to Foster Tolerance and Empathy in Your Children