What do I think about me?

Self concept is something which impacts everyone from very young children to fully grown adults! Although it continually develops, a healthy self concept is something that must be fostered and nurtured from a young age to ensure the best possible chances for our children.

So what is self concept? Well Rogers (59) believed that it is made up of 3 aspects:

  1. The view you hold of yourself (Self Image)
  2. Your self esteem
  3. What you wish you were like (Your ideal self)

There are also 3 ways in which we develop definitions of ourselves and these are:

  1. Concrete – our physical characteristics and specific roles
  2. Abstract – our qualities, beliefs, feelings, morals
  3. Comparative – relational to others
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Image from Morguefile.com

At a very young age, infants and young children begin to see themselves as unique individuals – separate to others. Parents and professionals can reinforce this by responding to baby as he/she makes eye contact, smiles, babbles. Smiling, talking and singing to baby has so many wonderfully positive effects! As they grow, children will begin to be self conscious of their actions and therefore reinforcement or criticism has a very strong influence on their self concept. You may notice this as a baby starts to look at the adult before pushing a toy off the table or opening a cupboard that they maybe shouldn’t! Try to avoid becoming frustrated and always remain calm while maintaining firm boundaries for the child.

As they reach the ‘terrible twos’ they often start to become independent and want to do things for themselves. Allowing them to experiment and recognising their independence is really important for reinforcing the child’s self worth.

As they continue to grow (3-4)  children begin to understand themselves in new ways; they use concrete descriptions (e.g. I have brown hair and I’m a big sister) and start using comparative terms, while still focusing on their own qualities (e.g. I’m a good runner!) Even at this early age, children are beginning to think about the things that they are good (or not so good) at. They are continually interpreting the reactions of those around them to influence their self esteem and concept of themselves. Providing children with learning experiences designed around exploration and investigation is a really positive way of promoting an – ‘I can do it’ – self concept at this age as there tends not to be a specific end result.

There are also tonnes of fun activities to be done around this stage; for example creating an ‘all about me’ book where children create self portraits, write words about themselves/their friends/ their family, include photos of themselves doing various activities. You could also involve some maths by creating tally charts/ bar graphs etc of various physical features within your classroom (e.g. how many of us have blue, brown, green eyes…?)

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Image from Morguefile.com

At around age 5-6, children are having to deal with the big change of going to school. Some children may be more confident around groups of peers than others but there is a possibility for all children to feel anxious. As they get older they begin to use more comparisons between themselves and others (e.g. My friend Billy is good at maths but I’m not) and they also recognise themselves as part of groups (e.g. I am a girl guide.)

It is important to help children to recognise the things that they do well, but equally important to let them experience failure. This is one of the reasons why I despise the stories of sports days where there are no winners and everyone receives a medal – children need to learn that everyone has their own unique abilities and that it is OK if you don’t win. If they are deprived of these experiences as children, then they will often lack the coping abilities that are needed within the real world.

I also believe that it is important to model a healthy self concept to your children. Of course, it’s not possible to feel wonderful about yourself 100%  of the time, but show off that positive mental attitude. This might even mean admitting to the children when you find something difficult. This particularly applies to me when it comes to maths – but I feel that (when I’m a teacher) if I am honest with my children and admit that even I need to continue to work hard in order to accomplish my goals then this is a positive and helpful experience for everyone.

 

I hope that you can join me on Twitter: Tuesday at 8:30-9:30 where we’ll be discussing this topic some more along with any questions, ideas or related reading from various knowledgeable tweeters from the world of childcare. It’s a very friendly and informal chat, just add the hashtag #childcarehour – see you there!

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Further reading:

Scholastic.com – How children develop self concept

Positive Parents – Building a positive self concept

 

On a slightly related side note – I was pointed to an interesting article this week which debates the idea of telling a child that they are beautiful even if they are not. In my opinion, every child is beautiful in one way or another – but it is an interesting read: TAKE A LOOK  – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Happy Halloween

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Halloween is a wonderful excuse for some silly, spooky fun! I’ve been having a think and here are some of my favourite Halloween themed activity ideas:

  • Spiderweb threading – using a paper plate with holes punched around the outside, encourage the children to thread wool across as many times as they like to make a wonderfully tangled web. For added fun, try drizzling some glue over the top and sprinkling with silvery glitter (Health and Wellbeing, Creative, Science)Spider
  • Spiderweb on floor – Using masking tape, map out a large spiderweb on the floor, then add colours/ numbers or shapes and turn it into a fun game by shouting out one (colour/number/shape) and having the child jump on it/stretch to it (Health and Wellbeing, Numeracy, Science)
  • Pumpkin carving – for more on this see Enjoying Autumn
  • Dancing – play some spooky music and get involved in some dance and movement! Think about the different ways that different Halloween characters might move – a stiff skeleton, a floaty ghost, a slimy monster… (Creative, Health and Welllbeing) One of my favourite pieces of music for this activity is Greig’s Hall of the Mountain King (I love how it builds up to an exciting climax!)

  • Haunted castle bingo – use an outline of a spooky castle (plenty to be found on google), then add numbers – using either computer skills or by hand. Numbers can be hidden in windows or could just be added onto the castle using clear white circles/stickers. Remember to blank out a few so that not everyone has the exact same sheet! Then practice number recognition either by matching the number to the one you hold up, or identifying it by name alone. (Numeracy) 302589_10150902988750374_423956221_n
  • Spooky slime – Halloween is the perfect opportunity for some gloopy fun! Why not experiment with adding hair conditioner or even soap flakes for an exciting sensory experience!
  • Darkness and Shadows – set up a dark den or create an area which is as dark as possible, then let the children explore with torches, glow sticks and other light up toys. Develop this further by shining a light on the wall/ floor and experimenting with creating weird and wonderful shadow shapes. You could even try telling a story using shadows as your pictures. (Language and Literacy, Science)
  • Go for a torch walk – everything looks different in the dark, and now that the dark evenings are closing in we have more time to enjoy it! Take the torches outside and use them to look at the trees, buildings, landmarks etc. My favourite time to do this would be at dusk, however ff the light levels are really low when you go out, please make sure to use an enclosed garden or very safe space. (Health and Wellbeing, Science)

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Other people’s ideas that I love:

These fruity treats from One Little Project

This super cute masking tape mummy from No Time for Flash Cards

Cotton bud skeletons from All Free Crafts

Pumpkin potato prints from Roaming rose

Have a great week everyone!

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Baby play

baby brain

My broody brain has taken over! With friends and family welcoming tiny bundles of joy into the world over the last couple of weeks, and after spending a lovely day yesterday working in a baby room; I though I would post some of my favourite toys and resources for baby play!

In no particular order:

  1. Mirrors – this might be an obvious one but it’s amazing how much stimulation and enjoyment a little one can get out of looking at themselves in a mirror. Try different shapes and sizes.
  2. Scarves and soft materials – whether you’re waving them, stroking them onto baby’s skin or playing peek-a-boo, materials and fabrics are wonderful for all kinds of games and enjoyment.
  3. Brushes – Stroking, brushing and squashing are all wonderful kinds of sensory experiences to be had from playing with brushes such as a clean toothbrush or hairbrush.
  4. Image from morguefile.com

    Image from morguefile.com

    Pots, pans and spoons – not only fun for putting things in and taking them out again, these metal resources can make fab (read as “loud”) noises when banged together.

  5. Foods – baby safe food can be a great invitation to play and can help to encourage those young children who are beginning to try new foods.
  6. Stacking/ sorting toys.
  7. Play cups, teapots, babies – and all kinds of resources that allow children to imitate those adults that they see around them.
  8. Noisy toys – toys that sing songs, squeak, rattle (and are the cause of many a headache to us grown ups) wont fail to be engaging and attractive to little ones.
  9. Discovery bottles – fill pop bottles with water and glitter/food colouring/ beads/ conkers/whatever else takes your fancy and seal it up tight. Then let the children explore by shaking, turning and watching.
  10. The most import one of course is YOU! No amount of beautiful toys or environments can give a baby the stimulation and joy that you can. Don’t forget how important you are and what a fantastic job you’re doing!

Lots of the above toys and items can be made into treasure baskets. HERE is a wonderful article explaining the value of heuristic play and the link with treasure baskets. There are also more ideas for you to explore so I recommend you give it a read!

N.B. please do ensure that any resources that you add to your treasure baskets or baby play areas are child safe and appropriate for your baby’s age and stage.

Blog hopping (baby treasure baskets):

The Imagination tree – Baby play ideas

Image from theimaginationtree.com

The train driver’s wife – 150 items to include in your discovery basket

Baby centre – DIY baby sensory treasure baskets

Examiner.com – 101 Items to put in a treasure basket for babies

Very Messy Mummy – Treasure baskets

Hope everyone has a fantastic week!

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