• cultural diversity: the different beliefs, religions, languages, family heritage, socio-economic background, and ethnicities in a group
  • ethnicity: a societal grouping based on place of origin of a person and his or her ancestors
  • linguistic diversity: the many different home languages spoken in a group
  • race: a societal grouping based on physical and biological characteristics that people share

Foster a Sense of Self

Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.

To understand and respect others we must understand and respect ourselves. In their early years, children are just beginning to develop an identity of their own, and to recognize that they are individuals separate from others. You may notice this as children shift from referring to themselves in the third person (“Jarrod’s truck!”) to the use of the pronoun I. (“I want that truck!”) It is vital that educators nurture this emerging sense of self-identity. Yet it is equally important to nurture a child’s sense of belonging in the group By creating a welcoming environment that respects diversity and celebrates differences between and among individuals and groups, you can help children develop self-confidence, self-esteem, a sense of belonging, a positive social identity, and interpersonal skills.

  • Nurture children’s development of both individual and group identities.
  • Nurture children’s awareness of their own strengths, talents, and needs.
  • Help children develop strategies for getting help when they need it.
  • Treat learning as a social act and teach children skills to work and play with others appropriately.

In this video, you’ll see educators highlight opportunities and activities that celebrate individual and group identity. As you watch, look for effective strategies used by the educators in the video and jot down answers to these viewing questions in your Learning Log.

  • How do the educators nurture positive self-identity and group identity?
  • How are everyday activities and routines used as opportunities to support a sense of self?


Why is it important for a child to develop a positive sense of self and social identity early in life?

  • Each child learns to recognize herself or himself as a unique and special individual.
  • Understanding and respecting others requires that you first understand and respect yourself.
  • Recognizing and celebrating diversity within a group relies on individuals having a positive self-identity and then a positive group identity.

How can you continuously help children develop a positive sense of self?

  • Create a warm, welcoming, and nurturing environment.
  • Emphasize the special abilities and qualities of individual children by pointing out their talents and strengths. Being recognized for a talent or skill, such as singing a song, writing letters, or building a great block structure, will make a child feel good about himself or herself.
  • Acknowledge children’s accomplishments and progress. For example, in the video, Denise commends children for their abilities to aim ramps at targets, balance objects, and cooperate with others.
  • Find opportunities for positive feedback in everyday activities and routines.
  • Celebrate children’s family’s traditions, cultures, and languages through conversations and activities. For example,
    • In the video, Denise uses home visits to get to know children’s families. She celebrates the family by posting photographs of family members and talking about how all families are different, yet each is special.
    • Encourage children to share their family’s customs and language during class discussions.
  • Teach children strategies and interactions about helping others. For example,
    • Suggest that children work together to perform routine tasks. (Who can help Maria put away the blocks?)
    • Ask for volunteers to help you or others in the classroom.
    • Encourage children to ask for help from, and offer help to, one another.

How can everyday activities and routines be opportunities to develop a child’s self and group identity?

  • Welcome children each day to the group by singing songs or chants.
  • Use small group meetings to have children tell what they know, what they are good at, and what their interests are.
  • Assign “jobs” (such as line leader, door holder) so children feel like valuable members of the group.
  • Give children a chance to express their thoughts, ideas, and opinions about books during read-aloud sessions.
  • Listen to and talk about music and art from around the world, including children’s home cultures.
  • Have books and other materials available that explore or represent different cultures and traditions, old and new.


Think about the learning environment at your own program as you answer these reflection questions in your Learning Log.

  • How do you nurture self-identity and group identity?
  • What did you learn that you will put into practice in your learning environment?
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