Self-portraits are key to development
The class was all doing self-portraits with crayons and pastels. Jackson did a picture of his head.
“It is my head in armor.” He thought for a moment and then said, “I can’t draw my body until I measure it. I don’t know how big a paper to use.”
“Okay,” Miss Paula said, “I’ll get a tape measure.”
We measured Jackson. He is 43 inches tall.
“Forty three!” Jackson was very excited. He kept saying “Forty three!”
“Would you like to write that number?” Miss Paula asked.
“I can’t. I don’t know how.”
“Here, it’s on the tape. You can copy it. Start with the 4.”
Jackson wrote the number 43. He was so pleased with his work he wanted to take it home. So he did a second self-portrait for the classroom.
He set the whitepapers face down on the white surface of the writing center. “Miss Paula,” he said, “it’s camouflaged.”
The exercise of doing a self-portrait helps children conceptualize their view of themselves. It is a form of mirroring, supporting brain development, and is a basic step in developing self-awareness and understanding. Jackson has clear ideas, he knows he was bigger than a single sheet of paper.
Values and Character Development:
Being able to direct the activity himself gave him a sense of power, or control, helping him to gain ever important social skills.
Jackson’s clearly articulated directions and descriptions are evidence of growing literacy and language development. Drawing and mapping the body is also an early form of learning geography. Children first learn the parts of their body before they can understand larger concepts of city, state, country, etc.