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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Scaffolding - a story

In our work we use the word "scaffolding".....and just like builders use scaffolding on a building, going up one level at a time, making sure each level is secured properly before moving on... we believe children's knowledge is constructed in much the same way.  

Our job as Educators is to notice their interest or provoke their thinking in a contextual and 
meaningful way, layer upon layer, as they show readiness for the next step.

In the example below from our Preschool Educators I was struck at the way they very carefully "scaffolded" with this group of children in order to help them be successful at the task/experience the teachers had in store for them.  Less experienced and less thoughtful Educators would have just taken the children for the walk and hoped for the best.. the way these Educators handled the situation set the children up to be confident and successful was wonderful to read.... here is their story..

A Neighbourhood Adventure awaits...... (West Cambie Preschool)

Our children enjoy playing in the outdoor playground every day, rain or shine. 

We discussed taking the children for a longer walk through neighborhood.  Until now we have only left the playground to go to our designated spot to practice our monthly fire drills.  This is a short distance to walk but even during the short distance some of the children struggled to follow directions and needed many reminders to stay in a group.  

We wanted to go on adventures with the children but it we could see the children would need a little more coaching to do this successfully. 

Tianna and I discussed how we could prepare the children for our first walk. First we needed to figure out activities that would prepare them for the big day.
 We decided that the children needed to become familiar with certain safety rules.  We needed to teach the children to walk behind a teacher, walk together with a partner, understand the reasons why we need to stay together and show the children what the side walk, road and stop signs were all about.   

  We began setting up activities for the children. We drew a road and sidewalk with chalk  in the play area and set up the cars and acted out what our walk would look like.  This way the children could experience walking together with partners and follow the rules that the teachers had set.  

Next we set up a road on the art table with toy cars and people and the children reenacted crossing the street with the dolls and cars safely. Not all of the children participated in the road activity, art is optional for the children, so we presented the road at circle time and all of the children had turns to walk the dolls across the road safely. 

We wanted to make learning the safety rules fun and used our tunnels as an entry to the classroom after outdoor play this required the children to wait in line and take turns.  

We played "Go Go Stop" and "What Time Is it Mr. Wolf" which required the children to listen and follow the instructions.

After all of the practice and activities we decided it was time to go for our walk. 
We reminded the children of what they had learned about walks already and made our way out of the building for our very first adventure.  

We crossed the street and waited in line at the stop light. 

It was exciting to see the children walk so well as a group. On the walk the children noticed many things some of which were rocks, leaves and branches to bring back to the classroom. 

We were so proud of the children and happy that we had had our first walk with such success, excitement and discovery!

Since the walk we have taken several walks and will continue to go on our walks and venture out further each time.      (Written by Kulvir Dulay)
I hope you see the thoughtfulness and intention of these Educators..... "scaffolding" children's knowledge so they can have more experiences and big adventures!