Learning Through Scaffolding

Just like scaffolding on a construction site supports a building under construction, scaffolding with children is a technique adults can use to support children’s learning. Scaffolding helps children process information and go beyond what they would be able to accomplish on their own. As a child gains more skills and experience, a caregiver can provide less support or adjust her scaffolding to help the child achieve a more advanced behavior. This aids in the child’s learning process.

Do you think the mother and child in the video clip have read this book together before? In fact they have. What about their interaction suggests that? Notice how the mother pauses to give her son a chance to fill in parts of the story. If this was the first time they read this book together, she probably would not pause, because the child wouldn’t know what to expect! But because the child has heard the story before, his mother invites him to participate.

The mother also goes beyond the story. She asks her son what letter is on the page. When he doesn’t know the answer, she provides more scaffolding by prompting him. The child is then able to make the connection to his life, saying, “G is for Grampy.” This mother turned book reading into a rich scaffolding experience.

  • Back-and-forth or contingent interactions
    exchanges in which a caregiver times her responses to a child’s behavior
    observing then reproducing, or copying, a behavior
    Infant-directed speech
    a special tone and style of speech used to talk to young children. It’s also called parentese.
    the support a caregiver provides a child to help her achieve more than she would be able to accomplish on her own