There are moments in our lives that help define who we are. As a school-age staff member, it is important for you to think about how your sense of self has developed so that you may support and encourage school-age children.
According to Mark Ylvisaker, a researcher in communication disorders, there are eight experiences that contribute to the construction of a positive and productive sense of self:
Acceptance and Respect
The level of acceptance and respect from relevant adults is a strong contributor to an individual’s sense of personal identity at all ages. Respect for others is communicated through the expression of genuine thoughts and interests as well as holding reasonably high standards for their behaviors and ability levels. Non-judgmental communication and view of families are also an important component of respect.
Success with Meaningful Tasks
A positive sense of self and self-esteem are ultimately derived from meaningful achievements. As a school-age staff member, you must therefore be creative in identifying activities and tasks in which your staff can experience meaningful success and ideally a sense of contribution
Association of Positive Role Models
People who are reminded of someone with strong values or great inner strength prior to beginning a difficult task tend to put more effort into the task and achieve at higher levels than if they had not had the positive association before beginning the task.
When giving feedback, it should be honest, respectful, and specific to the task at hand. Rather than saying, “Good job!” to a child who successfully completed a large puzzle, try saying, “Wow! You worked so hard to put that puzzle together. That took a long time and you didn’t give up.”
Genuinely Challenging and Meaningful Tasks
Creating experiences and opportunities that are meaningful and fitting to a school-age child’s developmental level and that support daily routines can help contribute to a positive sense of self. Knowledge about each student and of developmentally appropriate practices will be essential when you plan your activities and experiences.
Opportunities for Meaningful Peer interaction
Finding opportunities that can contribute to ongoing support from peers can help contribute to a positive sense of self.
Coping With Defeats
Defeats are a normal part of everyday life. Sometimes things do not work out or go as planned and learning how to deal with setbacks and turn them into opportunities for grown will help to build a positive sense of self. Managing frustration is important for school-age children to learn and they often need guidance to develop and practice this skill.
Use these eight experiences to think about defining moments in your life that helped you develop into the person you are today. Think about how experiences, environments, and relationships played a role in your experiences.
|Ylvisaker’s List of Experiences||Your Personal Experience and Reflection|
|Acceptance and Respect|
|Success with Meaningful Tasks|
|Association of Positive Role Models|
|Genuinely Challenging and Meaningful Tasks|
|Opportunities for Meaningful Peer interaction|
|Coping With Defeats|