Developing a sense of identity in preschoolers

Milica Jelic

Abstract


Identity is understood as the whole feeling of personality, a sense of continuity and stability in spite of numerous changes and impacts that the person is exposed to. A sense of identity starts to form in childhood, with active participation of people from children’ and the social environment. Children from birth tend to develop a sense of ownership, identity. The authors cite several types of identities: the social, cultural, personal, ethnic, racial, sexual, national, and in the case of children, especially adolescents, we examine the concept of peer (group) identity, etc. Obviously, children who feel worthy and capable are mostly more optimistic and better students. Also, healthy sense of identity helps children to be more open to other communities, and not to fear from differences. A healthy sense of identity helps children to feel better about themselves. This paper deals with the analysis of the ways in which preschool children are encouraged to the identity development, what are the teachers’ attitudes about the identity development in preschoolers, what are their support methods and strategies about identity development, do preschool children understand the concept of identity, do they have encouraging environment for developing and nurturing a positive sense of identity. Also one of the questions was what type of identity is the most developed for preschool children. The research was conducted using: a questionnaire for preschool teachers (which included 50 teachers working in kindergartens at the municipality of Niksic) and interview protocol for preschool children (which included twenty five children aged 4 and 5 years attending preschool institutions of the municipality of Niksic). It has been found that teachers are helping children to develop a sense of group identity and self-identity, that they are respecting children needs and helping children in their development. The most common teachers’ activities are helping children in performing certain tasks, monitoring children's needs, building a portfolio for each child, etc. The strongest factors which had influences to the identity development are the families, the social groups to which children belong, social conditions, as well as traditions and cultural milieu. Children mostly have developed sense of the self, family and group identity, and they said that teachers implement many activities about identity development. Most of the interviewed children already have a clear idea about their own identity and future plans they want to achieve.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n22p225


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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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