Experiences and relationships with our families, cultures, communities, schools and other settings shape our identities over time. During early childhood, children develop self-concepts or sense of self as they recognize and understand who they are – what makes them similar to and different from other people. They notice the characteristics – attributes, abilities, attitudes, and values that define them as unique individuals.
Sense of Self, or identity, includes roles, behaviors, and attributes we associate with ourselves including descriptions, such as “I’m Strong,” Development of sense of self begins in infancy. A child’s sense of self is about who he is, not what he can do. Truly knowing and understanding the children in your setting requires observation, time, and commitment. This knowledge allows you to customize the environment, materials, curriculum, and interactions with individuals and groups to best serve each child.
Here are a few ways to support children’s development of self-concept and strengthen relationships with each child:
Temperament is the way a person approaches and reacts to the world. It influences our behavior and the way we interact with others. It’s fixed at birth and driven by both nature and nurture.
Researchers define temperament into three types each of which is equally acceptable:
Of course, early educators need to be accepting while encouraging the child to step out of their comfort zone. It’s important to view all temperaments as equally worthy and appropriate Being aware of a child’s temperament can increase your understanding of their unique characteristics and how they will likely react to the people and events in their life
•Active or Feisty
•Slow to Warm Up or Cautious
Approaches to Learning
As children gain knowledge and skills across the physical, cognitive, language, and social-emotional domains, children develop approaches to learning or specific skills that help direct their learning. There are specific characteristics that determine a child’s approach to learning Intrinsic motivation to learn
Approaches to learning are closely linked to school readiness. Children who can plan, focus, and remain persistent, curious, and engaged tend to be more successful in school Marilou Hyson suggest the following strategies to arrange an effective setting
.Use intentional teaching practices like:
Strengths and Challenges
●Every child will excel at something and struggle to master others. It’s ok. Understanding children’s strengths and challenges will help you customize activities to work on specific skills, encourage children to learn, and promote their success.
Children will typically excel sharply in one or two areas that may represent how they learn best. To maintain engagement, challenge them in the areas in which they excel and the areas in which they struggle.
Approximately 8% of three- to five-year-olds receive free special education services through the school system through The Individuals with Disabilities Act or IDEA. From birth to age three children are eligible for free assessment and evaluation and are provided an IFSP or Individualized Family Service Plan. The plan is developed with a focus on families as the greatest resource for infants and toddlers.
Preschoolers who are eligible for special education services are provided an individualized education plan or known as an IEP. The IEP is developed by educational staff in conjunction with parents and work on specified goals for the child and the services that might be needed. The services typically are speech, occupational and physical therapy
Early childhood classrooms are becoming more diverse, with every classroom including children who have many different cultural and ethnic identities, It’s an early educator’s job to ensure that their setting welcomes all children and families so they will feel comfortable and in the children’s case ready to learn.
Culture refers to the way you eat, sleep, talk, pray, play, and value things and concepts. Culture includes outward symbols like the way we dress or eat or the languages that we speak and a deep behavioral structure. Cultural rules dictate the way show respect, what constitutes as spirituality, Or concepts of time and personal space. Our values and goals of education and in essence the kinds of people we want our children to become.
We can help develop positive and accurate identities by showing that their family’s home language, cultural beliefs and practices, and racial background are welcomed and a natural part of the setting. Here are some ways to support children within the classroom:
You can not do anything or compromise on anything that will negatively impact children’s health and safety, it is important to show respect and consideration for practices that a given culture might value like:
Young children do not understand the concept of ethnicity and racial groups, they notice differences among people. It’s important to note that racial identity can include multiple races and cultures. Children who are biracial and multiracial should have all their races represented if you are aware of them. We need to portray the message that ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL. Your job is to teach tolerance and acceptance of people of different races, cultures, and ethnicities and ensure that our children see that others are the same, but different in their own ways and that it is ok.