Scaffolding is a tool that great educators use instinctively. I don’t like the metaphor behind the term, however. We need a better visual image and story to help illustrate exactly what it means.
Angela C. Santomero provides one for us in her brilliant book, Preschool Clues . . .
“Imagine a preschooler is playing on the swings at the playground. She is able to swing by herself but it unaware of the fact that pumping her legs just so will increase her momentum and allow her to swing even higher. But when someone else shows her how it’s done, coaches her, and encourages her to repeat it until she’s mastered it, she can literally take her swinging to a new level.
As a parent, caregiver, [or teacher], you’re not swinging for her, you’re not tearing her down for not knowing how to swing higher-you are modeling a tool for her to use and learn for herself.”
Pushing our kids on the swings can be fun for everyone.
But our kids can touch the sky without help and soar on their own. They just need someone to show them how, to challenge them, and to believe in them.
That is what scaffolding is. It is coaching, modelling, encouraging, and setting our students up for success. It’s something that we need to be focused on and aware of every day. With it, we can all reach heights well above us, ones that seemed out of reach.
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