Humane Education and the Development of Empathy in Early Childhood: Definitions, Rationale, and Outcomes

  • Mary Renck Jalongo
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 8)


Internationally, one of the most pressing issues for early childhood educators is challenging behavior in young children, defined as disruptive, aggressive, and violent behavior that inflicts mental or physical harm to others. Addressing this concern requires teachers and families to support the young child’s budding sense of empathy, which is a major goal of humane education programs. Although most people assume that humane education focuses exclusively on the responsible care of animals, contemporary concepts of humane education are far more expansive and extend to compassion for all living things as well as to guardianship of the earth. This chapter defines humane education and describes the development of empathy, supplies a rationale for integrating humane education concepts into the early childhood curriculum, explains how human-animal interaction can serve as a foundation for teaching compassion in the early years, and recommends strategies and resources that enable educators and families to promote positive outcomes for children.


Humane education Compassion Empathy Neuroscience Aggression Violence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professional Studies in Education DepartmentIndiana University of PennsylvaniaIndianaUSA

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