The Self- Who Am I?: Children’s Identity and Development through Early Childhood Education
AbstractChildren develop self-identity, who they believe themselves to be, and begin to form relationships through play and peer relations which contribute to their emotional, social and cognitive development. Theories of self generally agree that an early childhood program can foster children’s self- esteem and build the foundation for future relationships with others. From interviews and observations, 4 to 6 year olds portray their internal lives of self, construct their personal identity, and how these may affect the learning process. The sample was drawn from 3 pre-school classes in Kenya, consisting of 35 boys and 23 girls (N=58) Sampled expressions of self through children’s writings, drawings, dialogues and scaffolding tasks are discussed. The study makes reference to Vygotsky’s theoretical framework of social learning theory, highlighting the links between children’s learning, play, language, peer relationships and identity. The challenges for early childhood Education and Care are explored while trying to answer questions of identity facing young children such as, ‘Who am I?’ ‘What will I be when I grow up?’ Data from children’s expressions show that identity differs from one child to another, and that children’s self can be modified. The notion of ‘identities’ rather than an ‘identity’ emerged. The study indicates that children’s selves are shaped by local the environment, values, and each child’s unique development.
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