Gabriela Finds New Strengths Teaching Disabled Children


Hi, this is Gabriela Molina Valencia speaking about my news to Friends in other lands. I am delighted because the financial help has allowed me to study in the University. I am in my fifth semester, studying psychology. In 2011 my university classes just started on February 15. I'm taking social psychology and psychology in education, this semester only part time. I have to work every morning which basically functions as a practicum. My job is perfect for my career and it helps me with tuition. My practicum is working with 2 years old at the preschool, Happyland. I help the toddlers who haven't been away from their parents to adjust to a school. These young ones are still learning to speak their first language. Sometimes they cut their words, so I am using speech therapy to those who cut off or slur their words.


Last year my practicum (work) was at an afterschool center named Mohan. Mohan is part of a system of Commonales which are programs for children from different area schools in LaPaz. Children receive recommendations from counselors to participate in after-school activities to give extra help in schoolwork. There's a structured program for children who are behind, but there's support too. On Friday afternoons there are dance classes. These kids need an outlet like movement.


I worked last semester in the afternoons, 3 days a week. I helped rehabilitate children's learning problems. One example of disability is when children write numbers in reverse. Some of the children that I tutored had dyslexia. Specifically, I helped them to organize different syllables in words that they'd mix up. We instructors would place pictures to signal special sounds (a, u, i, etc.). This is practice applying certain learning theories to young children.


We have a project this year for children to edit their writing at a young age. It's discouraging for children to be making the same mistakes. This project is for children 8 to 10 years old. The goal is to simplify the process of learning to write. We break it down for students by making columns for them to write inside. This is part of my classwork in education.


At my church Nueva Jersalen in La Paz I have started teaching preschoolers. The director asked me to teach last year, but I was afraid at first. I'm 20 years old and still learning myself. It's so difficult to describe God, I was petrified. How do you explain God when children know nothing of the afterlife, the Bible etc.?


Eventually, I got the idea to try out different things. Use simple ways to explain love.Now I feel so much more confident. This year I said yes to the Friends director and I'm pleased to be teaching the young ones.