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What Does Scaffolding Have To Do With Teaching?

June 15, 2017

     No two homeschooling classrooms are alike. The choices of curricula, the family size and dynamics, the physical layout of the work space, and schedule combine to create a unique home classroom. 


     Then there are the wide variety of homeschooling approaches from traditional curricula, classical education, and unschooling just to name a few. But there is one thing we all have in common; we must all assess what our children know and what they need to learn. This is the foundation of an instructional concept called scaffolding.



     Scaffolding is instruction beginning at a child's current level. You've likely used this strategy already such as when you taught your child to ride a bike. No one picks up a bicycle and rides it on two wheels the first time. You start off sitting on the bike while someone holds it steady for you. You learn to pedal. You learn to go forward with someone keeping you from falling. And somewhere along the way, that person lets go and you're riding your bike! That's scaffolding!


     Scaffolding can also occur within a specific lesson with your children. My boys and I do history and science together. Both boys seem to truly enjoy both subjects. To be honest, one is more knowledgeable in science and the other in history; but they are both strong subjects for them. In scaffolding instruction for them when they are learning together, I tailor my instruction to their specific levels. 


     I may ask one son if he knows what a word means while asking the other one to give me an example of that concept in a practical context. I may have my younger son look up words in a basic dictionary for younger children while my older child may look up the same word in a traditional dictionary. 


     Just recently we were learning about Shakespeare during our history lesson. The book included an excerpt from Macbeth, and the boys were interested in reading more from Shakespeare. I used an app that we rely heavily upon that includes a ton of children's books. I quickly found two versions of Macbeth, one designed for children in upper elementary grades and the other for children in middle school. Both boys read Macbeth and we had a great discussion about the play. But they each read a version suited to their age and reading level. 


     Scaffolding is a great tool to help you teach multiple children at the same time. Within the same lesson, you might teach different skills to different children or the same thing but at different levels. And it can make your life so much easier when your kids can be taught together. 


     So, it's time to get building!

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