From: Annie McDevitt
Submit: Post Field Note
Date: 05 Oct 1996
Remote Name: 22.214.171.124
Name: A., Age: 2nd grade, Gender: F
Something that stood out to me at my first visit to Barrios Unidos was a little 2nd grade girl who I'll refer to as A. I joined her in the last 30 minutes or so, as she was working on a computer game with Jakob. The game was to move pieces of a puzzle around with the mouse into the correct places. It was part of the Lion King program. When I first joined her she was refusing to try the game, insisting she couldn't do it. So I showed her by doing a couple of pieces myself and giving her some suggestions. After a couple minutes she was doing fine on her own. After a few puzzles she could do it on her own.
This incident made me wonder about how best to encourage children. I remember growing up that my parents would often simply do something for me instead of taking the time to teach me how to do it for myself. Because it was less hassle for them, they would refrain from giving me responsibilities like having a fish tank, because it would mean they'd have to take the time to show me how to care for the fish. I think this made me doubt my abilities to take on responsibilities and made me dependent on others to do things for me.
I noticed this event because I remember being a young girl and not believing I could do challenging things like writing a letter. I think what I needed was some encouragement and some help and to be told that I could in fact do these things. I want to learn how to build a child's self confidence without being condescending. I want to learn how to encourage children to try challenging things, not to be scared off by them. I think girls are especially vulnerable to getting into the habit of depending on others to do things for themselves. This incident showed me that I want to learn how to encourage children to stretch themselves and take risks. I want the kids to know that it's okay to make mistakes. I want to make sure that I never squelch a child's desire to learn by doing too much for them and keeping them from discovering things for themselves.