This frustrating post is a throw-back of mine from February 2011.
On Saturday I attended the Hooked on Books event in my town with my son. It was phenomenal! There were so many hands-on activities for children to experience and enjoy, including a few ‘meet and greet’ opportunities with authors.
We spent the full amount of time allotted at the event – 3 hours. We raced minnows, said hello to the “reading dogs”, decorated (and ate) a cupcake, while reading the book If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, watched dancers from the adaptive dancing program, had a free lunch/snack, made Oobleck while listening to the story Bartholomew and the Oobleck, chose a free book to keep, did some weaving on a large loom, and much more!
One of the highlights of the day for my son, was by far the “author and illustrate your own book room”. It was enjoyable for me to watch patiently as he made decisions about his creation. He learned so many concepts (ON HIS OWN) during the 45 minute process. The end result – a beaming young boy, proud of his accomplishment and very excited to read ‘his book.’ In case you’re curious, he entitled it “All About Me”, in which he discusses his favorite things. I’ve included a pic below.
You may be wondering…what was so frustrating? The people (mom) sitting directly across from us. Her poor daughter (I’d guess about 5 or 6 yrs old) had a very different experience. Her mom started out well, allowing her daughter to talk about ideas for her book. The girl decided on the front page she wanted a house and began drawing a house. Her mom stepped in and said, “Oh, but don’t you want your house to be made from one of these pretty papers? You could cut out a house.” “Okay,” said the girl. “How about a red house?” “Okay,” said the girl as she continued on to draw a door in the red house, talking about all the people that could/would come through that door. “But don’t you want a purple door?” Asked the mom, handing her some purple paper. “Yeah.”
Once the house was finished, the little girl lit up as she talked about the princess that would live in the house. “I’m going to put her in a pretty blue dress!” She exclaimed with excitement. The mom said, “First, you need to cut out the girl.” “Nah, I’m cutting out the pretty blue dress first.” “No, you need to cut out the girl first.” The girl began to cut out her ‘pretty blue princess dress’. The mom actually grabbed the scissors from her hand as she said, “How will you know how big to cut the dress if you don’t yet have the girl cut out?” With a defeated look, the young child began to cut out a little girl. The mom continued to interject her opinion about the child’s progress. Finally, the girl said, “Mom, can you just do it for me? You do it better.” And so it went, with each page, the mother choosing/doing her entire book.
Meanwhile, the child was getting more and more frustrated. At the very end she said, “I can’t do it” in reply to her mom who said, “You do it. You’re doing just fine.” I had forced myself to keep quiet throughout the entire process, although it was painstakingly frustrating for me.
When the child threw down the scissors in utter frustration, I had had enough. I spoke to the mom in a joking (but not really) manner. “Mom, it’s my book”, I said. “I know”, she replied, but it didn’t seem to help. She continued to dictate each and every flower and did most of the work herself until the book was finished.
The mom held up the book and proceeded to say, “Wow! It’s absolutely perfect!” What did the child learn from that experience? Ugh…so frustrating! Why do some people assume that children can’t do their own work? Please remember that it’s about the process, not the product (end result).
I’d love to hear about similar experiences that YOU have had. Would you have intervened? How can we support these children when they’re in our care and want us to do things for them because of experiences like this? Comment/Reply below.