Ready Set Go to Kindergarten

Scaffolding

Nicolle Bellmore Pierse - Tuesday, January 12, 2021

What is scaffolding?

 

Scaffolding is a method used in teaching in which the teacher adds or reduces supports in order help students learn. It starts by meeting the student where they currently are and gradually increasing difficulty from there, either by making the problem more complicated or offering less help. Think of how you learned multiplication on whole numbers before fractions or decimals. Scaffolding allows a teacher to turn the learning into chunks and provide different amounts of support along with each step.

 

What are some benefits of using scaffolding?

 

Because scaffolding goes step by step, it gives you a chance to constantly reassess what support your student needs at that specific moment in time. It is a very individualized instructional practice, super flexible, and is thus fairly easy to use at home.

 

How can you use scaffolding with your child?

 

Let's talk through the example of teaching a child the names of all the colors. You could start out by making sure that you name the color of things that you are currently using: "Now we're going to grab the blue bowl and the yellow cup." You can then ask your child if they know what color something is. If they answer correctly, give them a high-five or a hug (reinforcing that they are correct), and if they answer incorrectly you can say, "Nope, it's not purple, this is red. But good try!" Eventually, you could also give your child multiple guesses. This is a way that you can assess if your child can correct themselves and also teaches them that mistakes are okay.

 

Another quick example is teaching your child how to put on a jacket. At first you will probably be putting the jacket on the child and zipping/buttoning it up for them. You can talk through the steps while you do this, and you can talk through the same steps while you put on your own jacket. After a while your child will likely be able to zip up their coat themselves and only needs you to hold up the jacket for them. From there you can work up to handing the jacket to your child and letting them figure out where the sleeves are.

 

You can use scaffolding to teach your child basically anything! The main thing to remember is that every child is different and will need more or less support in different areas. With the jacket example, some children might understand how to get their arms into the coat but will still need help with the buttons. Other kids might pick up how to use a zipper before they figure that out.


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