There are a variety of different teaching methods all designed to help children learn effectively and thoroughly. Some methods work well together, while others do better when they are applied individually.
Montessori scaffolding (also known as scaffold learning, the scaffold method, scaffold teaching, and instructional scaffolding) is a very popular method in early years childhood education.
What Is Montessori Scaffolding?
When building, scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support a work crew and materials to aid in the construction, maintenance, and repair of buildings.
We use this philosophy in our Montessori learning environment to support building independence in children.
The idea is that new lessons and concepts can be more readily understood and comprehended if support is given to a child as they’re learning.
It can also involve teaching a child something new by utilising things they already know or can already do.
How we use Scaffolding within our Montessori learning environment
When using scaffolding with young children, we will provide them with support and guidance while the children are learning something new and age-appropriate or just slightly above what the child can do themselves. As the children learn the skill, the support is lessened as their abilities develop and until they can do the new skill all on their own.
We can see an example of Montessori Scaffold learning from the photos below:
- The first image shows how the child is shown how to thread a needle.
- The second image shows how the child can now thread the needle themselves.
- The third image shows how the child can start sewing now that they know how to thread the needle for themselves.
Scaffolding works best when the teachers/parents employ the method in different ways. Here are a few examples:
- Making suggestions: If a child is having trouble completing a project, the teacher/parent could offer hints or partial solutions that might help solve the problem, while still encouraging the child to problem solve on their own. For example, “That block tower keeps falling down. One way we could fix it is by putting all the bigger blocks on the bottom. What other ways do you think we could help it stay up?”
- Asking probing questions: This encourages a child to come up with an answer independently. In the block tower example, a teacher/parent could ask, “What do you think would happen if we didn’t build the tower quite so tall?”
- Using demonstrations: In the block tower example, the teacher/parent who is scaffolding could make their own smaller version of a block tower to demonstrate how the blocks work best.
- Introducing a prop: Additionally, the teacher/parent could encourage the child to use different resources to help the block tower stay up and think out of the box by coming up with a creative solution. “What do you see in our classroom/home that would help support our block tower? Maybe if we turn that pencil holder upside down, that could help. Can you think of anything else?”
- Posing limited-answer questions: If a child is having trouble coming up with an answer to a question on their own, a teacher/parent who’s scaffolding can provide multiple answers to choose from in order to help the child come up with a correct response independently.
- Providing support: When a task is proving tough, the teacher/parent could help a child think through alternatives. Or get a child off on the right foot by discussing the steps needed to complete a task.
- Offering encouragement: Praising a child for attempting or completing a task, with even a simple “Good job!” increases a child’s confidence and sense of self-competence.
In early childhood education, scaffolding can be implemented in many ways. For example:
- If a child knows how to draw a straight vertical line, you can then show them how to draw a straight horizontal line. Once those two skills are mastered, they can put it together to draw a square.
- Once a child recognizes a specific letter, you can teach the sound and then words that start with that sound.
- A child that can use safety scissors can utilise that skill to use a hole punch.