“A child is born a first time, and then through the long and difficult process of constructing his identity, it is as if he is born again. In this process, he gives himself a face, a body, gestures, movement, speech, thought, feelings, imagination, fantasy; in short the awareness of being and the means of expressing his ‘me-ness’ which are absolutely essential for becoming autonomous and distinguishing ourselves from other people and things – people and things we live and interact with and from which, little by little, we draw most of the raw material with which we create our own identity. To recognise ourselves and to be recognised.” – Loris Malaguzzi, Founder and former Director of the Department of Early Education, Reggio Emilia.
A child’s sense of self is a vital component of their self-esteem, learning, body awareness and development. Pelo (2007) describes a self-portrait as an intimate, bold declaration of identity. The children are working on self-reflection this term, through revisiting self-portrait drawings and verbal descriptions.
The self-portrait is an opportunity for the children to be both artist and subject. The children worked alongside an educator who verbally scaffolded their drawing by prompting them to look closely in the mirror at their appearance, to elicit greater detail and observation. Educators asked the children to reflect and consider who they are, in terms of their physical appearance, their interests, their strengths, what they have learnt this year in the Banksia Room and what they want to learn in the future.
As Early Childhood Educators, we recognise and celebrate the children’s self-portraits and assist them in seeing themselves as unique individuals. Educators will also use these self-portraits as a provocation to encourage the children to reflect on how they have grown and changed across the year.