How to Teach with Scaffolding


Happy Wednesday! Even though school has been out for a few weeks here, and I’ve already gone on one vacation, I still feel like my 8-year old self on the last day of school.

And, call me Hermoine Granger, I wanted to KEEP LEARNING during the summer.

My mom would sign me up for summer school (back when you didn’t have to “need” summer school to attend), the summer reading program at the library, swimming lessons…basically everything you could possibly sign a child up for in my small town, she did.

So today’s speech-therapy technique is inspired by my love of learning. I want to teach parents how to use the “I Do, We Do, You Do” method of teaching.

Also known as scaffolding.

Why does this work so well?

Think of a building under construction. There is all the scaffolding on the side of the building, supporting the structure and allowing the workers to reach all areas of the building. As the building’s structure gets stronger and more complete, the scaffolding is removed little by little, until the building is complete and doesn’t need additional support.

Now apply that to a child learning something new. They are going to need a lot of support before they “get” it. They are going to need you to show them what to do and to practice it with you before they are ready to try it on their own. Depending on the child’s abilities and their interest level, they will need more or less scaffolding. And yes, it may be exhausting and frustrating, but when it transitions from completely dependent to completely independent, you swell with pride.

So here is what you do:

I Do: Model what you want the child to do or say. 

We Do: You have your child and yourself do or say the modeled behavior.

You Do: The child does it all by his or her self.

Okay, that is the super-simplified version of what you do.

Here’s how it usually goes: 

Scene: You want to teach your child how to put stuff in a bin.

I Do: You get your child’s attention. You show him the bin and then the toy. You physically put the toy in the bin. You verbalize, “Put in.” You take the toy back out and do/say it again. And again. 

We Do: Give the toy to your child. Putting your hand over his, put the toy in the bin, once again saying, “Put in.” Take it back out and do it again. 

You Do: Let your child handle the toy by himself. Give the direction, “Put in.” Go back to step 2 after two failed independent attempts and then let him try again. Shower him with praises when he does it independently. 

See how you gently remove the amount of support? It’s slow enough that your child won’t feel abandoned and/or overwhelmed, but quick enough that you can (hopefully) maintain his attention to the task. 

You can apply this to teaching in all aspects of your child’s life. Just remember to utilize patience, persistence, and encouragement. It will pay off. I’m yet to meet a kid that didn’t respond to this method of teaching.

Please try this method of scaffolding, and let me know how it goes!

Author: Miss Haley

My name is Haley, and I am a wife, mother, and speech therapist. I want to teach parents simple yet effective speech therapy principles and strategies to improve language at home.

Speak your mind, but please be kind!