Ever get frustrated trying to teach a child how to do something? I know I have! But there are some simple steps you can follow to minimize the frustration for you and your child. The official name of the steps I will list below is The Gradual Release of Responsibility or scaffolding. It works beautifully when teaching your child pretty much anything, such as riding a bike.
In the following steps, you only ask the child to work independently after she has been given the strategies for which to do so.
Let’s taking rhyming words, just as an example:
1. Model explicitly what you want the child to do over and over.
Mama: “I know some words that rhyme with cat. Listen to this: sat, bat, fat, mat, pat, etc. Can you hear how they sound alike?” or “Wow, did you hear those two words in that book? They rhyme!”
This is not just a one-time shot. It may take days or weeks of modeling before you try the next step. Explicit modeling means you explain your thinking and your strategy as you model it. This builds up her strategies for tackling the task herself.
2. You model again asking your child to take a more active roll.
Mama: “Cat and bat rhyme. Does elephant rhyme with cat?”
If the child answers incorrectly, be ready to model for her again. You might say, “A cat and an elephant are both animals, but they don’t rhyme. Cat and sat rhyme.”
3. Let her try it independently. Be ready to provide support, if needed at times.
Mama: “Let’s play a rhyming game. Let’s see how many words we can think of that rhyme with cat. Can you tell me a word that rhymes with cat?”
In step #3, the child takes an even more active role, but you are still there to provide the support that may be needed.
4. Independent Practice.
Child: “Hey mom! I just heard two rhyming words in that poem: star and car! And I know another one…jar!”
In this step, the child is able to think about the strategy or skill in a more flexible way, even applying it in different situations independently at times.
As you’re busy teaching your child, remember these four steps in releasing responsibility to her. It will help to reduce frustration on her part and on your part as well.
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