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Applying Sense of Self in the Classroom

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Teachers need to foster all children's development of self-concept, including things like self-control and reliance. This lesson outlines strategies for teachers that support students as they discover their emerging sense of self.

What Is Self-Concept?

Imagine a pre-school classroom filled with children. Some are in the housekeeping area 'baking' pies, others are building castles in the block area. In the art center, students are finger painting, and books are being read in the cozy book nook. Each is focused on their own experience, busy at work and play. But something else is happening that you can't see - each is developing a sense of self. They're building a self-concept, or an idea of who they are.

As children build with blocks or bake in the kitchen, they are starting to realize they are unique individuals. They see themselves in mirrors and pictures and recognize themselves. They're also beginning to see themselves in relation to others. Gwen may understand she is a girl and that Adam is a boy. They're interested in how special they are and like to talk about themselves. Adam may say 'Watch me run fast,' or Gwen, 'I have blonde hair like my mommy.' All these are examples of the emerging sense of self in young children.

The Development of Self-Concept

Believe it or not, self-concept begins to develop when children are infants. A baby gets a sense of self as parents respond to cries for food or attention. When the child and caregiver make eye contact and have serve and return interactions, this forms a bond that allows the baby to feel secure and begin to gain a sense of self. The baby coos and the mother returns the coo. Later, the toddler points to an orange and says 'Ball?' and the mother responds 'No, orange. Say orange.' These interactions are setting the foundation of a healthy sense of self.

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