Teaching Empathy in Schools: Why This is Important

When we think of quality education, what normally springs to mind? Math and reading skills, history, science, spelling, and things along those lines are usually a pretty good start. However, there is a piece of education that seems to be missing in a lot of children today. And it has the potential to create very serious problems.

Empathy in today’s day and age is on a sharp decline. It is becoming a struggle for children to relate to other people, leaving them closed off and isolated. One study shows that children who entered college after 2000 had a shocking 40% decrease in empathy levels than the generation before them. So what’s causing this? And how can private schools help change it?


The recent study conducted by University of Michigan researchers seems to indicate that the sharp drop in empathy for those college aged kids had a lot to do with their early lives when empathy is known to first develop. In today’s modern age, kids spend a lot less time outdoors playing with their friends and much more time inside, on iPads or computers. While this, in itself, isn’t inherently bad, it presents a very specific problem — these technology-focused activities are far less structured than games played outside, which have rules and guidelines you have to follow in order to play properly.

This immediately leads to the next problem. Without playtime being structured, children have less of a chance to get to know one another. They don’t have time to go over rules of a game, explain if someone doesn’t understand, and build connections with the people they’re playing with. Empathy cannot be gained through TV or computer screens.

How Private Schools Can Help

This is just one of the problems causing kids to experience a drop in empathy levels. So the next question that needs to be answered is how private elementary schools can help.

It presents a perfect opportunity, really. Most private schools today are realizing how important empathy is to a child and are working on ways to teach them about it. One of the benefits of private schools is that anywhere between 60% to 80% of the teachers have an advanced degree under their belt. Because of this, they are all too aware of child psychology and what each kid needs individually to grow and prosper.

One of the pitfalls of public school is the curriculum. There is so much for the kids to learn in the ways of math, English, science, and history, that there’s very little time for anything else. This not only makes it virtually impossible to set aside time to teach empathy, but it could also be cutting into essential playtime that would allow the kids to be taught empathy naturally. Luckily, private schools account for that and they adjust their teaching methods to ensure your child’s emotional growth is just as important as their intellectual growth, something public schools simply just do not have time for.

Empathy is essential for a person to have, which is why this sharp drop is so concerning. Today’s modern world has affected how kids connect with one another. Now it becomes a priority to ensure that they are able to still develop strong empathetic skills. Very few places can do that, except for a good quality private school.