Education Co-ordinator Bhavana on her recent visit to a Child Care Institution (CCI) in Maharashtra conducted a self-awareness activity called ‘My Tree Of Life’ with the children. The participants were in classes 7th and 10th. The purpose of the activity was to encourage children to develop an understanding about self and highlight various aspects of their personality such as their strengths, weaknesses, dreams and aspirations.
The children were given drawing paper and colour markers. They were asked to imagine themselves as full grown trees full of green leaves and fruits and sketch it out on the paper given to them. Each part of the tree signified something important in the child’s life. Bhavana asked them to draw the following on their trees-
- Fruits – The fruits signified achievements. The participants could include the big and small achievements of their life.
- Buds – The buds on the tree symbolised the person’s dreams and strong wants and desires in life. Bhavana explained that dreams are bigger and more difficult to achieve than desires, but not impossible.
- Green Leaves – These are the important events which have had a great impact on the person and his life.
- Branches – The branches are the skills and strengths of the individual and could be both acquired (educational qualification, vocational skill) or inborn (for e.g., a talent for singing).
- Yellow leaves – The yellow leaves were meant to be the failures and regrets of the person as perceived by him and not others.
- Trunk- The trunk of this tree is formed by the important people in the person’s life, who have been a support system. These people could be anyone-friends, family, and colleagues.
- Roots- The roots of this tree go deeper into the family. The person can write about her family, the person they would look up to for help.
The participating children received the activity with much anticipation and enthusiasm. They identified their strengths as – honesty and obedience, hardworking and caring and friendliness. On the other hand, they recognised aggression and low tolerance to fights as their biggest weaknesses.
On asking them about their dreams, it was interesting to see that these kids had already begun to plan their career paths. There were many who aspired to become accountants, teachers and social workers.
The session concluded with feedback about the activity from the children. They understood that knowing oneself is important for self-development. It is the first step towards knowing the future and moving successfully towards it. The children kept the tree with themselves and promised Bhavana that when in doubt in the future they will refer to it and work along their strengths and aspirations.