Effective Practice Guides

Sense of Identity and Belonging: Know

Goals for Infants and Toddlers

  • IT-SE 10. Child shows awareness about self and how to connect with others.
  • IT-SE 11. Child understands some characteristics of self and others.
  • IT-SE 12. Child shows confidence in own abilities through relationships with others.
  • IT-SE 13. Child develops a sense of belonging through relationships with others.

Teaching Practices


Use children’s names and comment on individual characteristics during daily routines and activities.
During a home visit, Ms. Quinto, a home visitor, sees that Ms. Drake has everything ready for feeding 4-month-old Sienna before the baby wakes up. When she hears Sienna whimpering, the mother takes her from the crib, changes her diaper, and then sits with her in the rocking chair. Ms Quinto says, “You had everything ready so you are relaxed and ready for a special time with Sienna. You could tell Sienna a special story about what she does each day, or something unique about her family, while she enjoys her bottle.”

Greet children and families warmly at the start of the day and invite families to share information about their child that will enhance practice.
“Roxanne and her daddy are here,” says Ms. O’Neal. Roxanne joins the other toddlers at the playdough table while Ms. O’Neal asks her father, “How was your evening?” He tells her about the book they read at bedtime. She reminds him to look at the photos of the children’s field trip to the library. “They are on our family child care webpage. Roxanne can tell you about the trip while looking at the photos.”


Display family photos, books, pictures, and other familiar household items that create a welcoming, home-like atmosphere and reflect the children’s cultures and home languages.
Jayla and Lamar are scooting on the carpet in the crawling area. On the wall, at the babies' eye level, are laminated photos of their families. The babies like to “visit” with their families. Ms. Inez says to Jayla, “It looks like you and your daddy had fun playing in the leaves.” To Lamar she says, “Your Grammy was singing a song to you.”

Provide places where each child can store personal comfort items from home.
In the front hall of Ms. Gonzales’ family child care home sits a low shelving unit with two rows of three cubes. This provides individual storage for each child in her care and a place to sit when taking off their boots. Above the shelves are six hooks where children and parents can hang up belongings. Each cube displays a family photo and has a basket that is easy to pull out so children can find and put away their belongings.


Notice and acknowledge the activities and contributions of each child.
At lunch time, Mr. Terry talks with the toddlers. “Liam, I see you put some spinach noodles on your plate. You used two hands to pass the bowl to Portia. Jen and Marcus, can you tell us about the roads you made in the sand box? How did you make them so smooth?”

Plan activities and experiences that allow children to express what makes them unique.
Every group socialization begins with a gathering. The parents, home visitors, and children sing, “Good morning to you, good morning to . . .” and repeat it until every child hears his or her name in the song. Today, they are learning a new fingerplay that Soledad’s mom, Ms. Diaz, suggested. Ms. Diaz and Ms. Warren, a home visitor, each hold up a hand with five fingers and sing, “Cinco ratoncitos/Five little mice, de colita gris/with little gray tails ...” Some children hold up their hands and wiggle their fingers. Some watch. Some sing.

Goals for Preschoolers

  • P-SE 9. Child recognizes self as a unique individual having own abilities, characteristics, emotions, and interests.
  • P-SE 10. Child expresses confidence in own skills and positive feelings about self.
  • P-SE 11. Child has sense of belonging to family, community, and other groups.

Teaching Practices


Invite children to explain the steps they followed in completing an activity or task.
Moises, 4 years old, is making a three-dimensional collage using paper scraps and colored tape. His home visitor, Ms. Emory, comments to Moises father, “Moises is using a lot of different shapes in his collage. Do you think he might like to tell us how he made these red pieces stand up?” Dad says, “Sure. He’s been making these all week. Moises, tell us how you make the pieces stand up.” Moises looks at his father with a smile and says, “I folded them a lot and then I taped them on the paper.”

Show an interest in the child’s life at the program and at home.
Kiki, age 3, arrives with a bag full of photographs. Mr. Perez says, “Kiki, do you have new photos for your family poster? Your mom told me that your aunt and cousins were coming for a visit. Are these photos of your picnic at the park?


Ensure the materials, displays, print, music, foods, and other items in the setting reflect the languages, families, and cultures of the children enrolled.
Ms. Kay is preparing a graph so the 4-year-olds can write their names to show which fruits are their favorites. She glues photos of different fruits—oranges, strawberries, and apples—at the top of each column. These are fruits picked by their families. Next, she writes the word for the fruit in Spanish and in English. She introduces the graph at morning meeting and later the children taste samples of the fruits at self-service snack time.

Provide materials and activities that allow all children to participate, succeed, and be challenged to build new skills and knowledge.
The music center in the classroom for 3-year-olds includes a collection of rhythm instruments. Mr. Trent has adapted the materials and props so that Flor, a child who has cerebral palsy, can grasp them. He wrapped the handles of the maracas with sponge pieces and wrapped the scarves with rubber bands to make them easier to hold.


Keep in close touch with families to exchange information about the child’s interests, successes, and challenges.
Ms. O’Hara takes a picture of Gina’s name writing on her smart phone, then emails it to Gina’s grandma who had been concerned about her granddaughter’s progress in learning to write her name. She includes a note, “Gina is very excited about being able to write her name. You can see that she has all of the letters in order! Today she wrote her name on all the things she created in our family child care program.”

Offer meaningful, specific praise for efforts and accomplishments.
Ms. Jackson spent the morning observing the children’s play in her family child care home. Ramon, 4-and-a-half years old, spent most of this time sorting buttons by size and color. Ms. Jackson says, “Ramon, I noticed that you spent a long time sorting the buttons. First, you separated them by color. Then you organized those piles by size. That was a big job but you kept at it until you were finished.”

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: December 3, 2019