Self Community is an online learning tool that teaches kids to manage their emotions, make effective decisions, and develop self awareness. The project is based on the very old idea that a person can separate their identity into multiple parts. Familiar examples of this idea are Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego, and the classic shoulder angel and devil. Each example expresses the idea in a different framework, and each framework is useful in different situations. Self Community’s framework is unique in that it calls upon the child to discover and actively build their own identity based on deeply honest self reflection and personalized strategies.
“Every now and then, my daughter lets me see her Identity Castle on Google slides, built with Miss Birdy week by week over the spring and summer, and it is something marvelous to behold… There’s the den of the Anger Dragon; the Empathy Dolphin’s room where love is cultivated, the Anxiety Ghost’s room decorated with gloomy forest photographs, a Memory library, and many more. She’s written stories and planned parties for these characters, and decorated the rooms on her own. We got to see the fruits of her Self Community work just the other day, when she got through a sticky math moment (a source of sky-high anxiety since kindergarten) with grace and fortitude. So I heartily vouch for Miss Birdy’s innovations in this work. It’s made a huge difference.– Liz (Mother of a 9yo)
What is the Process?
Everything is done over zoom, usually one or two hours a week. I use Google Slides to create, with direction from the child, a visual representation of their multi-faceted identity (see examples below). We start with some getting to know you activities, which give us the information we need to determine the “jobs” in this particular child’s Self Community, such as “staying healthy”, “being a good friend”, “learning”, etc.
Then we create the “Self Creatures” who do the jobs. Everything about the Self Creatures, their homes, and the rewards they can earn is customized by the child (with some guidance from me). To earn food and rewards for the Creatures, the child has to do things in real life. For example, playing outside would feed the Healthy Self, and reading a book would feed the Learning Self. Through this customization and gamification, the project motivates kids to think critically about their choices and, consequently, make better choices.
Every Self Community Project is continually in progress. The first one below is my own example, the second is by a 7 year old.