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Sense of Identity and Belonging: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s sense of identity and belonging is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Here are some practices that support infants’ and toddlers’ sense of identity and belonging:1, 2
    • Provide individual space for each child’s belongings, if possible.
    • Allow for personalized comfort items unique to each child (e.g., a special blanket or teddy bear).
    • Provide visual, auditory, or other representations of children’s families within the setting.
    • Reinforce how much the family means to the child and how much the child means to the family. Refer to children as part of a group.
    • Talk positively about being part of a group.
    • Engage children in activities that recognize each child, especially when children are in a group setting or activity.
    • Promote children’s engagement with other children upon arrival and during their time together so that they begin to seek out peers as a source of comfort, enjoyment, and support.
    • Provide culturally and linguistically diverse visual, auditory, or other representations to build an understanding of diversity within and outside the setting.
    • Greet children and families in a way that is respectful of family preferences and abilities and invite them to join in activities.
    • Comment on children’s/parents’ arrival and departure.
    • Comment on children’s efforts and describe accomplishments using positive language.
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit your planning goals and action steps where you and your coach/supervisor identified a teaching practice you want to work on. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where your coach/supervisor can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Greet children and families in a way that is respectful of family preferences and abilities and invite them to join in activities, you might ask your coach/supervisor to be present in your setting during morning drop-off to observe the way you greet each family according to their individual preferences. Because you will be focused on your role in the morning greetings, you might also ask her to observe families’ responses to your greetings to provide additional feedback about your interactions with families.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child and their child’s sense of identity and belonging?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge skills to support children’s sense of identity and belonging is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Here are some practices that support preschoolers sense of identity and belonging:3
    • Provide individual space for each child’s belongings, if possible.
    • Designate learning areas to help children learn to seek spaces that match their needs for quiet or active play.
    • Incorporate artwork and play materials that reflect children’s home cultures.
    • Describe aloud what children do and express as they play, explore, and participate in group activities.
    • Offer opportunities for children to communicate their sense of belonging to a family, community, and other groups (e.g., preschool, home-based socialization group).
    • Reinforce how much the family means to the child and how much the child means to the family.
    • Compare aloud children’s past and present abilities as evidence of their progress.
    • Give specific feedback to children about their efforts and express appreciation of hard work, cooperation, and successful problem-solving.
    • Use planned activities and children’s own observations to draw attention to people’s similarities and differences, including preferences and feelings.
    • Set up opportunities to practice problem-solving; for example, helping children think through options that would allow everyone to play with a desired toy.
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit your planning goals and action steps where you and your coach/supervisor identified a teaching practice you want to work on. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where your coach/supervisor can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Give specific feedback to children about their efforts and express appreciation of hard work, cooperation, and successful problem-solving, you might ask your coach/supervisor to observe during free play or choice time. She could record the number of times you use positive feedback that encourages children to persist in their work or resolve a problem.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s sense of identity and belonging?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child? Other children?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1Allyson Dean, Sarah, LeMoine, and Maria Mayoral, ZERO TO THREE Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators (Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE, 2016), 38–40, SE-6.

2Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User’s Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 64, D.11.

3California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 47, Social-Emotional Development, Self-Awareness, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: January 30, 2018