Grades 4 and 5
The Me I Want to Be
A Sample Unit on Self-esteem
Lesson Plans | Additional
Unit Introduction: Self-esteem
Although experts are not unanimous when it comes to a precise
definition of the term "self-esteem", they tend to agree that
there is a strong link between how much we value ourselves
and how much confidence we have in our own abilities. Our
self-esteem plays a significant role in our social, emotional
and physical well-being. The value we attribute to ourselves
has a major impact on our social relationships, on our confidence
in our ability to set goals for ourselves and to achieve them,
and on our ability to resist pressures which may lead to health-risking
Whether we have high or low self-esteem depends on how we
perceive ourselves and on how that image compares with what
we think we should be, based on various external and internal
standards. Children who view themselves as inferior to their
peers, to the images projected in the media, to the expectations
of the school or of their family have low self-esteem. In
turn, this attitude prevents them from living up to their
potential. Conversely, children who have high self-esteem
tend to reach higher, to become better students, better learners,
and to develop leadership skills. In other words, self-esteem
and achievement, whether low or high, are mutually reinforcing.
Feeling good about who we are starts with knowing ourselves
and accepting ourselves the way we are. It sounds simple enough.
Yet how much we value ourselves, how good we feel about ourselves
is influenced by many factors. It is important for students
to learn to assess and define who they are, to appreciate
and value their uniqueness, to acknowledge the richness of
diversity, and to be proud of who they are.
Students need to realize that they can choose to have
a healthy self-esteem. However, helping them take control
of their self-esteem requires the gradual development of interrelated
knowledge, skills and attitudes: they need to develop a sense
of who they are, to recognize their own strengths and value
them, to develop respect for their limitations, to demonstrate
respect for differences, to recognize potential sources of
negative influence on their behaviour, and to develop assertiveness
skills to resist such pressures. These skills and attitudes
are to be developed gradually throughout the elementary level.
Helping students to develop a healthy self-esteem requires
collaborative efforts on the part of the whole school, the
family and the community.
Grade Level Perspectives
This model unit is designed to help students in grades 4
and 5 strengthen their self-esteem. Resources, as well as
most activities, are the same for both grade levels, as all
students will reflect on their interests and abilities, on
the people who support them and nurture the development of
their self-esteem, and on the pressures which tend to have
a negative influence on their self-esteem.
However, some activities are designed to help students reflect
on the topic of self-esteem from the point of view of their
particular grade level perspective:
- In grade 4, students focus on "applying decisions" to
maintain a healthy self-esteem.
- In grade 5, students try to deal with conflicting expectations
which impact on their self-esteem. They are encouraged to
make responsible decisions by sorting positive and negative
influences on self-esteem.
Specific titles are suggested in this unit only as examples.
These and other appropriate titles are listed in Health
Education: An Initial List of Implementation Materials for
the Elementary Level, 1998. Additional instructional
materials to support this curriculum will be listed in Health
Education: A Bibliography for the Elementary Level, scheduled
to be published in the spring of 1999.
Teachers are encouraged to investigate possibilities for
using resources suggested in other lists of materials, such
as the bibliographies accompanying the curriculum guides for
all other areas of study.
In addition to the school's resource centre and the public
library, check the following sources for instructional materials:
- children's magazines
- Internet sites
- television and radio programming
It is also important to access local human resources such
as health professionals, parents, or Elders. As in all subject
areas, care is required when arranging for guest speakers
and classroom presenters. It is the responsibility of teachers
to clarify the content and objectives of the presentation.
Students in grade four should be fairly independent in using
the steps within Levels A and B of the Decision-making Process.
The purpose of the grade four perspective, Applying Decisions
for Wellness, is to help students become increasingly independent
in using the steps within Level C of the Decision-making Process.
The grade 5 perspective, Considering the Wellness of Others,
encourages the students to take into account expectations
of others and of self in order to establish priorities when
- We are all unique: Questionnaire "Looking for
- Let's celebrate our differences:
- Introducing ourselves
- Talking Circles: If we were all alike...
- Nurturing a healthy self-esteem:
- Reading: "Play With Me", by Jordan Wheeler,
- Personal response
- Discussion: accepting ourselves the way we
3.Look at options and consequences
4.Choose an option
- Resisting negative pressures [Lessons are suggested
for the influence of advertising and the influence
of peer pressure on self-esteem. Select either of
these lessons for teaching this unit. The other
lesson can be adapted and used within another unit.]
- Advertising strategies (options and consequences)
- Peer pressure (options and consequences)
- Practising choosing an option
5.Design and carry out an action plan
6.Examine the results. Revise as needed.
- Action plans:
- "I can choose to be proud of who I am" (grade
- "I can choose who to listen to" (grade 5)
- Adapting our action plans.
Additional Internet Resources:
Education: A Curriculum Guide for the Elementary Level (Grades
1-5): Sample Units