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Building and Shaping a Confident Community of Learners

Whichever stage of development children are currently in, the only certainty is that they will continue to change as they experience life, along with the people they share their lives with at each stage.

Written by: Joanne Harris Early Educational Advisor  

Within any relationship, there will be times when each person will learn more about the way in which they see life. When teaching or spending time with young children there is an extra layer of responsibility to act as a model and guide as they learn who they are too.

It seems simple enough when children are verbal and able to indicate their likes and dislikes through their words, behaviours, and expressions, but not as easy when learning to decipher an infant's or toddler's preferences and needs.

Whichever stage of development children are currently in, the only certainty is that they will continue to change as they experience life, along with the people they share their lives with at each stage.

Learning who we can become is a lifelong journey

Just as children learn daily, so are the people who care for them. We know that life does not come with an instruction manual - but this allows the freedom of placing no limits on who we can be, and ultimately become.

Much of their young life is based upon routines that provide predictability and security in order for them to grow and develop their sense of self and increase their opportunities to become independent learners who are encouraged to develop their autonomy.

Setting up mirrors and providing reflective materials where children can observe themselves allow children to recognise that they are individual people with their own unique personalities and characteristics. Instant feedback is provided when their actions, reactions, and expressions are returned back to them.

Collections of Mirror Stacking Pebbles, Donuts, and Mirror Balls made available in baskets for children to examine set up on a rug or mat can provide stimulation as children are developing core strength skills such as sitting or reaching for items. An additional benefit is an opportunity to distinguish between their own reflection and that of others - taking in a variety of perspectives of those around them.




Questions can be more Important than Answers

As children’s horizons widen through the discovery of their world through exploration, their engagement can be further deepened through reciprocal exchanges with peers and adults. Asking questions becomes ever more important to children as they need more stimulation to keep their interest and long-term attention.

Early stages of cognition are linked to language and the development of vocabulary, which could include more than one spoken language. Introducing a resource such as the Emotions Learning Game to a small group for discussion can provide a setup for future independent exploration. By identifying and modelling a range of emotions and scenarios that may be experienced children can continue to develop through social interactions.

Wooden community blocks depict images of people from different ethnic backgrounds who live in our world and provide a discussion prompt for children to make connections to who they represent in their lives. With a variety of children and adults, they can learn about how people live, and what their occupations are through positive imagery.

As a diverse group of people, the blocks also offer opportunities to gain insight and understanding about cultures, religions, and levels of ability which children may begin to question or relate to aspects of themselves, family members, educators, and peers.

Building and Shaping a Confident Community of Learners

Overall, developing comprehension skills by asking questions provides insight into the children developing their sense of identity. Asking children simple questions, to begin with, and listening to their replies with interest helps to build trust and security.

Younger children can be encouraged to share their preferences by asking them to make a choice between a couple of simple options, such as choosing which clothing item to wear or where they would like to sit at the table. Remembering their favourite colour or animal and including this information through daily activities and experiences supports their feelings of recognition and acknowledgement.

Older children may find ways to relate to peers by participating in a group time discussion using the Get to Know Me Big Book & Card Set. Reflecting on the questions after playing can invite children to consider their different points of view and their interpretation of the answers they heard. Giving the children a soft fabric Cooperative Activities Band to hold could assist them to form a circle to sit inside of or play other team-building games in which they learn more about each other.


There is a difference between being and doing

When children are creating through play, their focus is on who they are being. Whether painting at the easel or catching a ball, they are being artists or emulating their favourite sportsperson.  For children, there is an instilled inner belief, and they are committed to that moment for as long as they are enjoying it. There are many children who literally wrap their identities in dress-up clothing as they thoroughly explore different characters until they can separate themselves into channelling other interests.

As educators is it essential to take inspiration from children to shift the focus away from what children are doing to continue to be able to meet the need to help shape their unique and individual identities.

For more ideas and inspiration on how to support children develop their sense of identity please visit

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