Developing a sense of identity versus your daycare setup
Can your daycare setup help build a child's sense of identity? Of course! Several small additions can be considered...it's much easier than you may think!
What you should look for
It is very important that children develop their sense of identity so they can become more and more aware of who they are as they grow older. Each child must be able to realize that, at daycare, he/she is not only part of a group, but also an individual. In their family environment, it is generally much easier for children to realize this, mostly since they are not obligated to do everything with others. However, in a daycare setting, it can be difficult for children to feel unique and realize that they have their own identity.
How you can help
Many small details can make a difference. First and foremost, I think it is important that each child has his/her own space where he/she can store personal belongings. The cloakroom is perfect for this. For example, ideally, each child should have an accessible cubbyhole within your cloakroom that is identified with a pictogram, a picture, or his/her name.
Also, creating a space where a child can go to step away from the group, think, and be alone for a few minutes, for example in your relaxation area, can also help a child develop his/her sense of identity. Displaying a picture of the child, of his/her family or an illustration that represents him/her is also appropriate. Having their own space will help children focus.
Several different schools of thought exist when it comes to giving children specific spots within the daycare (at the table, on the floor in your circle time area, etc.). Some feel it is best to let children decide where they will sit, others feel that giving each child a specific spot can offer stability and therefore be reassuring as well as help children develop a sense of identity during routines and transitions.
Personally, I think that finding balance is possible. You can, for example, identify each child's spot in your circle time area, but let them decide where they wish to sit at the table. If you have two tables, one for crafts and one for meals, identify children's spots at one table and let them decide where they wish to sit at the other table. That being said, I think it is important that each child has at least one spot that belongs only to him/her.
Finally, do not hesitate to write each child's name on his/her belongings (toothbrush, blanket, drinking glass, mattress, etc.) or use an illustration or pictogram to identify them.
Keep in mind that your goal should be to help children develop their sense of identity AND their sense of belonging to the group. Building their sense of belonging to the group has very little to do with your daycare setup...and everything to do with encouraging positive relationships within your group.
Interior designer (Créations Addap)
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