In Part 2 of Sarah’s articles on the benefits of playing the Ukulele she discuses Increased Self Awareness- (physical) Hands- Core- Posture- Emotional and Social

Five levels of self-awareness as they unfold early in life

Philippe Rochat

Department of Psychology, Emory University, 532 North Kilgo Circle, Atlanta, Ga 30322, USA

Received 27 February 2003

In his abstract the Author, Philippe Rochat outlines the emerging concept of “self” from birth to around the age of 5. It shows how development is not smooth and sequential but is a gradual process, at times wavering and prone to regression.

A child developing “self mastery” of their physical self needs challenges and opportunities to exercise their physical control and skills of self co-ordination. It is tempting as a parent or care giver to “take over” a child’s tentative explorations into self improvement of their physical co-ordination: ie: put on their wellies and gloves, button their coat. Achieving simple self care milestones as these are vital and lead to a greater acuity of precision, especially in balance, locomotorary poise, spatial awareness in relation to their core and extremities and manual dexterity. Such independence also feeds their sense of social self competence and confidence.

What is Self-Awareness? ( Taken from-Learning Works – For Kids)

“Self-Awareness is the thinking skill that focuses on a child’s ability to accurately judge their own performance and behavior and to respond appropriately to different social situations.

Self-Awareness helps an individual to tune into their feelings, as well as to the behaviors and feelings of others. For example, a child successfully uses self-awareness skills when they notice they are talking too loudly in a library where other children are trying to work, and then adjusts the volume or their voice to a more considerate level.”

A child that has opportunity to reflect upon their OWN performance/ action whilst playing an instrument and performing gradually gets used to the idea that THEIR input, in specific situations is REALLY important and CONTROLLABLE, by THEM. This “accountablility” for actions and performance is a vital ingredient in the maturing of a personality whether as a preschooler, a school age child and even as an adult; as the link is made and reinforced between “cause and effect”. Success is in NO small way related to their repeated self co-ordinated EFFORTS.

A child that learns to play an instrument is constantly being bathed in feedback related to them and their activity. Over time they react to the feedback and adjust their performance, posture or physicality accordingly. It is a REALLY rich ground for a child to develop tolerance of positive feedback and occasional negative feedback whilst embracing the individual responsibility that they have for THEIR actions and the individual OPPORTUNITY that they have to launch into a higher level of competence.

As parents, care givers and Educationalists we can make valuable contributions towards increasing a child’s self confidence and physical emotional and social confidence.

On the website “ZERO TO THREE” there are many suggestions as to how those that care about a child can enrich their experiences and underpin and extend their increasing “self awareness”. Playing a stringed musical instrument, like a ukulele provides one of the “challenges” mentioned, on the website with which a child can successfully negotiate a new skill and emerge with a strengthened self awareness and belief in their own ability to achieve new things.

Happy strumming!

Sarah Kelly