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Identity – Children have a strong sense
of identity

Introduction to this Outcome

Identity is unique to each individual, and defines who people are, what shapes their interests and how they come to view the people and events around them. Some aspects of identity are permanent and others change throughout life. The foundational sense of who we are is profoundly important. Identity is aligned with belonging, the sense of feeling included and secure in the social settings (family, community, early childhood services and schools) that are part of everyday life.

From birth, relationships are at the foundation of children’s construction of their identity: Who am I? Where do I fit in? How do others see me and relate to me? These questions are at the core of identity formation. In order to form a strong sense of self, children need to build secure relationships first within families and then with caring, attentive adults and other children in the places they spend time.

Secure attachments are critical for all children from birth and link to positive mental health outcomes. Attachment means having attentive, affectionate, consistent, available, attuned adults as a source of comfort and reassurance. When children from birth have positive experiences of relationship and place, they can develop a strong sense of security, identity and belonging. They can construct a positive image of themselves, and behave as secure, significant, respected individuals. As children build self-identity and a sense of belonging they reach out and communicate the need for comfort, assistance and companionship. As they show interest in others and experience being part of a group, they participate with others in play and other learning opportunities and develop friendships.

The acquisition and maintenance of first or home languages has a significant and continuing role in the construction of identity. This is supported when early childhood professionals respect children’s cultures and languages. In Victoria the rich array of languages and cultures enable many opportunities for valuing and strengthening multilingual capabilities, respecting cultural diversity, supporting common values and building social cohesion.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, connections to country, including through learning on country in the natural world, support identity. Family and community are valuable sources of cultural knowledge and skills for all early childhood professionals in developing cultural competence.

Children who have a strong sense of identity feel comfortable within local, social and cultural practices important in their lives. Children feel safe and secure and experience close attachment and kinship with those close to them – parents, grandparents, family groups, caregivers and friends. Children are supported to act with self-confidence and autonomy while also recognising the interdependence of their social groups and their place as a valued member. They learn about reliance on others and about our ability to help and support others. Children are comfortable in the here and now of their lives and are able to grow and thrive because they feel they are secure and belong.

When children seek and accept new challenges they show autonomy and agency. From birth, the concept of agency is closely related to the development of a sense of identity. Dramatic play is important for exploring different identities and points of view, including the notion of belonging to global communities. Children should be supported to appreciate similarities and differences between individuals and groups, and to respect different perspectives.

As children learn and develop, they build further on their abilities to cooperate and work collaboratively, demonstrate initiative by asking questions and attempting new challenges. With encouragement, children plan their learning, reflect on their achievements, acknowledge the value of persistence, and enjoy their accomplishments and contributions. A strong sense of identity enables a child to be confident, and to recognise and accept that in any social setting there are consequences for their actions and behaviours. All children, with support, can develop a strong sense of self and learn how to interact with others with care, empathy and respect.


VEYLDF Victorian Curriculum: Levels F – 2
Children feel safe, secure and supported

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • build secure attachment with one and then more familiar educators
  • use effective routines to help make predicted transitions smoothly
  • sense and respond to a feeling of belonging
  • communicate their needs for comfort and assistance
  • establish and maintain respectful, trusting relationships with other children and educators
  • openly express their feelings and ideas in their interactions with others
  • respond to ideas and suggestions from others
  • initiate interactions and conversations with trusted educators
  • confidently explore and engage with social and physical environments through relationships and play
  • initiate and join in play
  • explore aspects of identity through role-play.

This develops, for example, when students:

Develop a vocabulary and practise the expression of emotions to describe how they feel in different familiar situations. Personal and Social Capability: Self-Awareness and Management (F)

Practise the skills required to include others and make friends with peers, teachers and other adults. Personal and Social Capability: Social Awareness and Management (F)

Identify rules and fair play when creating and participating in physical activities.  Health and Physical Education: Movement and Physical Activity (L1 – L2)

Explore roles, characters and dramatic action in dramatic play, improvisation and process drama. Drama: Explore and Express Ideas (L1 – L2)

Explore ideas for characters and situations through dramatic play. Drama: Explore and Express Ideas (F)

Explore ideas, experiences, observations and imagination to create visual artworks. Visual Arts: Explore and Express Ideas (F)

Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • demonstrate increasing awareness of the needs and rights of others
  • are open to new challenges and make new discoveries
  • increasingly cooperate and work collaboratively with others
  • take considered risks in their decision-making and cope with the unexpected
  • recognise their individual achievements and the achievements of others
  • demonstrate an increasing capacity for self-regulation
  • approach new safe situations with confidence
  • begin to initiate negotiating and sharing behaviours
  • persist when faced with challenges and when first attempts are not successful.

This develops, for example, when students:

Explore the effects that personal feelings can have on how people behave in situations where ethical issues are involved. Ethical Capability: Decision Making and Actions (F–L2)

Explain how being prepared to try new things can help identify strategies when faced with unfamiliar or challenging situations. Personal and Social Capability: Self-Awareness and Management (L1–L2)

Consider personal reactions to situations or problems and how these reactions may influence thinking. Critical and Creative Thinking: Questions and Possibilities (F–L2)

Create captions to images for individual presentations and participate in shared performances and imaginative activities using familiar words, phrases and language patterns. Non Roman Alphabet Languages: Communicating (F–L2)

Use strategies to work in group situations when participating in physical activities. Health and Physical Education: Movement and Physical Activity (L1–L2)

Describe the people in their family and where they were born and raised and how they are related to each other and how their stories are communicated and shared. History: Historical Knowledge (F–L2)

Make connections of people in Australia to other places in Australia and across the world. Geography: Geographical Knowledge (F–L2)

Children develop knowledgeable and confident self-identities

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • feel recognised and respected for who they are
  • explore different identities and points of view in dramatic play
  • share aspects of their culture with other children and educators
  • use their home language to construct meaning
  • develop strong foundations in both the culture and language/s of their family and the broader community without compromising their cultural identities
  • develop their social and cultural heritage through engagement with Elders and community members
  • reach out and communicate for comfort, assistance and companionship
  • celebrate and share their contributions and achievements with others.

This develops, for example, when students:

Consider reasons why some places are special and some places are important to people and how they can be looked after. Geography: Geographical Knowledge (F–L2)

Identify weather and seasons and the ways in which different cultural groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, describe them. Geography: Geographical Knowledge (F–L2)

Present drama that communicates ideas and stories. Drama: Present and Perform (F)

Respond to drama, expressing what they enjoy and why. Drama: Respond and Interpret (F)

Understand that English is one of many languages spoken in Australia and that different languages may be spoken by family, classmates and community. English: Language (F)

Create and display artworks to express ideas to an audience. Visual Arts: Present and Perform (L1–L2)

Children learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • show interest in other children and being part of a group
  • engage in and contribute to shared play experiences
  • express a wide range of emotions, thoughts and views constructively
  • empathise with and express concern for others
  • display awareness of and respect for others’ perspectives
  • reflect on their actions and consider consequences for others.

This develops, for example, when students:

Describe their own strengths and achievements and those of others, and identify how these contribute to personal identities. Health and Physical Education: Personal, Social and Community Health (L1–L2)

Recognise that problems or challenges are a normal part of life and that there are actions that can be undertaken to manage problems. Personal and Social Capability: Self-Awareness and Management (F)

Participate in shared imaginative activities and respond through singing, chanting, play-acting and movement. Non Roman Alphabet Languages: Communicating (F–L2)

Identify and describe emotional responses people may experience in different situations. Health and Physical Education: Personal, Social and Community Health (F)

Understand that people use different systems of communication to cater to different needs and purposes and that many people may use sign systems to communicate with others. English: Language (L1)

Explore how language is used differently at home and school depending on the relationships between people. English: Language (F)

Acknowledge and describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Country/Place on which the school is located and why Country/Place is important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the ways in which they maintain special connections to particular Country/Place. Geography: Geographical Knowledge (F–L2)

Respond to media artworks and consider where and why people make media artworks. Visual Arts: Respond and Interpret (F)