Pushing girls towards STEM education may force them to pull away. Focus, instead, on the four pillars of natural choice: confidence, options, guidance, and encouragement.
Push vs. Pull and Natural Choices
As the mother of three girls, the idea of STEM education intrigues me. I am wholly in favor of overriding antiquated stereotypes. In no way, shape, or form do I believe “boys are better at math than girls.”
In turn, I have to be sensitive to my own interest in overcoming stereotypes. I have to make sure my personal agenda doesn’t dictate the choices my daughters make.
I do have a plan in place to steer my daughters towards choosing STEM educational options. I value their agency to make choices and I want them to have confidence in their decisions. It thrills me every time they make their own natural choice to explore science, technology, engineering, or math.
The first step in my master plan is to build confidence within my daughters. I want them to know that they are capable of finding success in areas such as technology, science, and math.
I encourage them to learn from their mistakes and hold their head high. All children are born with a keen intellect; my daughters are no exception. It is within the natural order of life for them to be mathematicians and scientists if they so choose. They know this. I tell them this and have told them this from the time they were young.
It is amazing how children build their own confidence on the backs of our confidence in them. If you believe in your children, they will believe in themselves.
The second aspect of my master plan is making a conscious effort to give my daughters’ options. Lots and lots of options! I want to provide options that open doors and provide opportunities: options that involve science, technology, engineering, and math.
It’s true that my three Little Women may like some options I present more than others. But the key is giving them the chance to have options, to experience options, and then to make their own choices.
We must provide our daughters with “opportunities to engage in structured activities such as hands-on experiments, role-playing, and interactive games to broaden [their] perspectives and experiences…” After all, how will our daughters know if they are good at something when they have never had the chance to experience it?
The third facet of natural choice is gentle, loving guidance. I am serious about guiding my children through their formative years. My daughters are just starting their life journeys. I am aware that they will each make and take their own paths. I am aware, also, that my ability to guide them may be the deciding factor in them taking ‘Path A’ over ‘Path B.’
I like giving my daughters advice, counsel, and direction. I don’t know everything but I do know some things and the things I know I want to share with them.
I know that whether they succeed or fail in life or in STEM-related pursuits is a direct reflection of effort, not talent. Making sure they know this is one way I can guide my daughters towards owning their “destinies.”
The last piece of the natural choice puzzle is good old-fashioned encouragement. We must encourage our children to do and be their best at every task they undertake. When by habit, our girls do their best; their confidence in making natural choices grows. This is liberating and empowering to them.
At the base of encouragement lies trust. My daughters know they can trust me. They believe me when I say they can accomplish any task. I am honest and my encouragement is sincere.
If at first they don’t succeed they know they can try, try, and try again. Encouragement is a first-cousin to hard work. Both pay off in dividends!
Giving Them Wings
We can’t control whether our daughters have an interest in science or math. What we can control is the environmental perspective they gain as they are forming these critical opinions.
Natural choices will always prevail. Needless to say, I will continue to focus on the four pillars of choice. I cross my fingers and I trust my daughters to make their own decisions as they find their own way.
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About the All-Star Blogger
Paige is the mother of three creative Little Women and enjoys spending time eating chocolate, watching movies, reading for pleasure, creating educational products, and maintaining her blog. Paige has a passion for helping students develop a love of reading. She has been a faculty member at Amelia Earhart Elementary for over seven years. She is a CITES Associates member of the BYU-Public School Partnership and a member of Provo School District’s Literacy Committee. She is an award-winning educator who enjoys mentoring interns and student teachers. You can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.